COLUMBIA TWP. — Rural Lorain County Water Authority customers in Columbia Township and Olmsted Falls have lost water because of the problem drawing water from Lake Erie into the Avon Lake Water Treatment Plant, Rural Water General Manager Tim Mahoney said tonight.
The problem is affecting between 3,000 and 4,000 Rural Water customers, he said.
“In the 40-year history of Rural Water what we have going on now is by far the worst disaster on our water system we’ve ever had,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney said the problem was caused by the turnover of water in Lake Erie in which cold water sank to the bottom of the lake as the warmer water rose, cooled and sank to the bottom. Those conditions created frazil ice that clogged the Cyprus wood grate that covers intakes pulling in water for the water plant.
Mahoney said Avon Lake was planning to send divers down to deal with the problem and also was using excavators to dig holes on the beach near the water plant that could be used as sumps that water could be drawn out of and pumped into the plant.
He also said that Rural Water was taking water from other water departments, such as Elyria and Wellington, to supplement its water resources. He said workers would dig around Lorain County Joint Vocational School this morning to tap into a water line from Oberlin to further boost water capacity.
But Mahoney also warned that the ongoing problem would lead to more areas running out of water in the coming hours.