WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Help has flooded to the City of Watertown.
A major water line broke on Thursday, October 19, which cut off the City’s entire water supply. Homes and businesses were without clean drinking water. The break impacted nearly 50,000 people in the city and outlying communities.
The following day, Watertown woke up with good news; the line had been repaired and the water treatment plant was running.
However, Jefferson County remained under a state of emergency declaration because the water was not safe to drink.
“[People] should boil water for at least the next two to three days,” Watertown Mayor Jeff Smith confirmed after the initial repair. “We’re slowly filling that and hoping there’s no other breaks. But we’re anticipating, expecting the worst-case scenario that there will be some breaks.”
Help has been in Watertown since the break happened. Fort Drum and the 10th Mountain Division was one of the first to answer the call for help.
“Fort Drum currently has about 60 million gallons on hand, on the installation as we’re currently operating on a separate water table,” Fort Drum Acting Senior Commander Colonel Matthew Braman explained. “We’re able to provide that back to the community.”
Fort Drum deployed its soldiers within the 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade to water distribution sites in the City. These soldiers brought “HIPPO” trucks, which can each hold 2,000 gallons of potable water.
The Brigade also has its Tactical Water Purification System (TWPS) on standby. It’s these soldier’s specialty. However, the opportunity to serve in their home community is not always an opportunity.
“Unlike almost any other place in the Army, we are part of the local community, so we’re already embedded in the schools, were embedded in the hospitals, and we do this a lot,” Colonel Braman expressed. “So this isn’t really like we’re helping out somebody, some other town. It’s part of our home.”
The incident was addressed by New York Governor Kathy Hochul, Lieutenant Governor Anthony Delgado and the state Division of Homeland Security. Fire departments from St. Lawrence County, local police agencies and countless also remained on the ground on Friday.
An emergency boil water advisory remains in effect in Watertown. Potable water will be supplied at the Watertown Fairgrounds on Saturday, October 21 and Sunday, October 22.