A year after devastating water main break, Emporia city manager touts aggressive approach towards infrastructure needs Featured

Residents of Emporia, Lyon County and parts of neighboring counties had to go without water for several days after a 20-inch water main failed near 15th and Prairie a year ago. Residents of Emporia, Lyon County and parts of neighboring counties had to go without water for several days after a 20-inch water main failed near 15th and Prairie a year ago. KVOE News file photo

A year ago Friday, Emporia and Lyon County residents woke up to the news of a major water main break on a 20-inch line at 15th and Prairie.


While Emporia has had notable water main breaks in the past, perhaps none in the last 30 to 40 years had the impact of the one last year -- with a boil order spanning several days and affecting just about all 38,000 Lyon County residents plus portions of neighboring counties served by the city of Emporia.

City Manager Mark McAnarney was in Wichita when he was alerted around 4 am. As part of an interview airing on KVOE's 8:05 am newscast Friday, McAnarney says he was back in town by 6:30 am, but by then the scope of the failure was already becoming clear.

The break happened in the wee hours of the morning and wasn't initially noticed, draining much of Emporia's available water supply and forcing a temporary shutdown of the city's water treatment plant in the process. Boil water orders weren't fully lifted for over a week.

McAnarney says Emporia has taken a more proactive approach towards its aging infrastructure over the last decade.

McAnarney says the city has spent over $7 million on water line improvements and around $10 million at the water treatment plant the last several years. The city has also been aggressive, McAnarney says, when it comes to renovating its sewer system through re-lining pipes or current renovations at the wastewater treatment plant.

McAnarney tells KVOE News he was grateful for the agency response, and he thanked residents for their patience over the past several years as the city both fixes water main issues as they develop and conducts more extensive projects -- such as ones either underway now or coming soon to West 12th between Prairie and Grand, Prairie Street between Sixth Avenue and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks, Rural and East Whildin from 15th to 18th and the multifaceted water main work coming near Industrial Park III.

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