December 21, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
30°F
test

UPDATED: Customers asked to conserve water

This photo shows the area of Avon Lake where the water intake facility is. The intake is under water and there is nothing on the surface to see. There are bands of ice and open water. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

This photo shows the area of Avon Lake where the water intake facility is. The intake is under water and there is nothing on the surface to see. There are bands of ice and open water. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Many Lorain County residents are being asked to conserve water due to frozen intake pipes in Lake Erie that supply the county’s water.

Todd Danielson, chief utilities executive for Avon Lake Municipal Utilities, said several cities may experience a dwindling water supply as the company works to remove a slush-like ice from its pipes, which have blocked some water from entering.

The brutally cold weather, which reached a low of -11 on Tuesday, as well as the lake conditions, led to the slush-like ice, which Danielson referred to as frazil ice.

Frazil is a collection of loose, needle-shaped ice crystals in the water, resembling slush.

“We cannot pump as much as demand would require,” Danielson said.

Avon Lake Municipal Utilities supplies water to Sheffield Lake, Sheffield Village, Avon, North Ridgeville, Medina, Medina County and the Rural Water Authority.

Danielson said those areas could see a decreased supply, depending on how much water they receive from other entities. Some cities have issued emergency alerts to residents to conserve water while the issue is being fixed.

Safety Service Director Mary Siwierka said the Rural Lorain County Water Authority is currently taking additional water from Elyria. The higher demand on the system is, so far, not causing any problems for Elyria residents and the city’s facility is meeting the demand.

On Wednesday, EMH Health and Fitness Center in Avon shut off all non-essential water in the fitness center, including showers.

Bottle water was provided to patients at EMH Avon Health Campus for drinking so water can be conserved for other medical needs, said Kristen Davis, hospital spokeswoman.

Danielson said AvonLake residents were asked to avoid taking baths and washing clothing during the water emergency.

Plant employees worked throughout the day Wednesday to decrease the amount of ice in the pipes by using a variety of procedures with air and chemicals designed to break up the ice.

Danielson didn’t have a timetable for when the problem would be fixed, but he said warming temperatures should speed things along.

The National Weather Service in Cleveland predicted temperatures should reach a high in the upper-40s on Saturday.

“We’re working with the other jurisdictions as best we can,” he said. “We’re asking customers to hold off on unnecessary water usage during this time.”