Back to normal

DAYTON – Matt Johnson, owner of the Iron Saddle Saloon, got some good news Wednesday morning just a bit before 11 a.m. – a call from city hall letting him know that Dayton’s weeklong boil advisory had just been lifted.

“That’s great,” Johnson said.

The boil advisory was put in place by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources following a water main break March 4. Crews repaired the line on Friday and restored service to a three-block area of downtown. But until bacterial testing could be completed, the boil advisory remained in effect.

Johnson had to make a few changes to deal with it.

“We had to boil any water we used for cooking or dishes,” he said. “We also limited our menu to downsize the mess.”

In addition, he went to paper plates and plastic cutlery, canned soda and bottled water.

His ice fortunately is purchased from a commercial source.

“We got lucky there,” Johnson said.

Luck also held for him during the water outage, even though crews were digging up the street right outside his front door. He didn’t lose his water service.

“I’m just before the shutoff,” he said.

Johnson took the digging in stride.

“You just have to live with it,” he said.

Dawn Elifrits, the cook at the Dayton Community Grocery Store, has boiled a lot of water during the past week.

“I start at 6 a.m.,” she said. “I usually have three pots going.”

Most of that boiled water was used for doing dishes.

“The rinse water has to be boiled,” she said.

To save a bit, she switched to paper plates and cups, but her customers still got to enjoy metal forks and knives.

“I don’t mind doing the silverware,” Elifrits said.

For the coffeemaker and for cooking, she used bottled water during the alert. During the outage, she got a few days off.

“It’s pretty hard to run a kitchen without water,” Elifrits said.

She kept a positive mind set during the week.

“You just have to be patient,” she said. “It will get there.”

At Southeast Webster-Grand Elementary School, Principal Dan Grandfield said they coped with the boil order by buying bottled water – lots of it.

The school’s first purchase was 70 gallons.

“That got us through Friday,” he said.

The school purchased another 50 gallons this week. Each classroom was kept supplied with a jug and paper cups.

He’s glad it’s over.

“I think the whole city if relieved,” he said. “We can get back to our regular routine.”

Nancy Hansen, the head cook at the school, kept her students fed during the boil advisory by adapting.

She said they used bottled water for cooking. They lucked out on dishes; the mechanical dish washing machine heats the water.

“It goes over 190 degrees,” she said.

Hansen doubts the students noticed anything different. She stayed with the planned menus for the week. Behind the scenes, in the kitchen, she and her staff took the water issue in stride.

“It took a little extra time,” she said. “But that’s fine.”

Cyndi Gentz, administrator at the Grandview Health Care Center, said they instituted several changes to ensure their residents remained safe.

They have a written policy to deal with water problems. Precautions include dumping the ice from their ice machines and replacing the supply with safe source ice, removing water pitchers from patient rooms and replacing them with bottled water and buying bottled juice.

Their dish washing and laundry use high temperature water and a sanitizer, so they remained in use.

“We’re doing fine,” Gentz said.

While residents can now enjoy their tap water again, it is recommended that icemaker and other water filters be changed before being used again. Any ice produced during the boil order should be discarded.

Dayton was only one of several area towns affected by water main breaks this winter.