Icy pipes fixed, but conservation requested

Brian Rosenthal

Evanston officials have fixed the icing problem that limited the city’s water supply Friday morning, but are still asking residents to conserve for the next 24 hours.

Severe icing of intake water pipes from Lake Michigan caused the city to urge Northwestern students and staff to limit their water use early Friday morning. By 3:00 p.m., staff managed to solve the problem.

“The City of Evanston’s water plant has resumed normal operations after water intake was restricted due to ice build-up,” said a city statement released at 3:15 p.m. “But customers are asked to continue voluntary conservation measures.”The problem started at 4:30 a.m. Friday, according to the statement. The NU administration was informed of the problem at around 8 a.m.

Students and staff were first alerted to the problem when administrators posted a breaking news alert on NU’s Web site at 7:50 a.m., and sent an e-mail to all members of the NU community at 9:28 a.m.

The icing limited the amount of water getting to the Evanston Water Treatment Plant, 555 Lincoln St., which serves 350,000 customers in Chicago’s North suburbs.

“We have an icing condition which is preventing water flow from the lake into the water plant,” said Evanston Water and Sewer Superintendent Dave Stoneback early Friday. He declined to say more because he was “dealing with an emergency.”

“At no point in time was the quality of water in the system compromised,” the statement said. “Communities which receive water from Evanston were asked to conserve water and their water supply was not curtailed.”

The administration quickly worked to cut down water usage, including through switching to using paper plates in the dining halls, said university spokesman Al Cubbage.

“Hopefully people got the word and are indeed reducing water usage,” he said. “Don’t take showers now if you don’t have to; don’t do laundry now if you don’t have to.”

The freezing of water pipes is not completely uncomMonday, the city’s statement said. Weather forecasts suggest that the problem could reoccur during the weekend.

Officials are still asking residents to conserve, including “curtailing non-essential water usage, such as laundry, running the dishwasher, etc.” until 1 p.m. Saturday.