Idaho

Gov. Otter declares disaster in small Idaho town that has been without water for weeks

MCT

Gov. Butch Otter on Monday signed a disaster declaration for White Bird, an Idaho town north of Riggins that has been without water for more than two weeks.

The town has already declared a state of emergency, and officials in Idaho County approved a disaster declaration last week. Residents were using a public water system connected to two wells.

The problem began Nov. 24, when White Bird’s water system lost pressure. As of Monday, officials still hadn’t found the cause of the pressure loss and issued an advisory to boil all water used for drinking water, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and preparing food, according to an Idaho Office of Emergency Management press release.

On Dec. 1, the state warned the town’s 93 residents that even boiling city water wouldn’t make it safe for consumption. Town officials, who applied for emergency funding last week from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, said providing potable water to residents carried “an unsustainable cost.”

“When a community loses its potable water supply that affects every aspect of day-to-day living,” said Jerry Zumalt, Idaho County emergency manager, in IOEM’s release. “We are grateful to the State of Idaho for providing assistance and expertise as we work to determine the cause of the depressurization and restore the community’s water supply.”

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