Anne Horrigan Geary: No water, no coffee; a genuine calamity


DALTON >> Garfield and I agree about Mondays. We both hate them. If anything goes wrong on Monday morning, it is a much bigger deal than if the event had happened on any other day of the week.

So imagine the dark, unprintable thoughts that ran through my mind when I turned on the hot water faucet to wash my face this past Monday morning, and nothing came out.

When one is half awake — before one has washed one's charming visage — one cannot easily understand or solve problems. When the little light bulb finally came on, I immediately wondered what calamity had occurred during the night to disrupt the flow of water through the town pipes to our sleepy little corner of Dalton. Accident, dam breach, terrorism? In today's world it's easy to think the worst.

I flipped on the computer and looked at social media. No terrorist attack, no dam breach, no accident. So what was it? I checked the local media, but there was no information. I checked the town website, but there was no information there either. I checked the Facebook page of Dalton Emergency Management; but apparently there was no emergency to manage. But there was no water for me to brew a pot of coffee, and if you knew about my daily caffeine requirement, you'd know that was an emergency of epic proportions.

Still sitting at the computer, I checked the town website for the list of departments and found the page for the fire and water district. I have no idea why we have a separate fire and water district; but this was not the time to question it. I found the phone number for the district, and was happy to hear it ring, and be promptly answered.

Now the fun began. Someone had decided that Monday morning was the perfect time to switch a water line. I asked why we had received no advance notice since I have a dozen water jugs for garden watering that I could easily have filled for temporary household use (if you lived with the threat of hurricanes and no water for days for 30 years, you had dozens of gallons of water stockpiled in the cellar, so that is not an usual proposition). I was told that some customers had received letters of notification; but apparently the water department did not realize how many customers would be affected.

What!!!! The district we pay to provide water and maintain the delivery system doesn't know who is served by which mains? Why not, pray tell? Are there no up-to-date records or maps?

I do remember reading that in 2003 the water transmission system was rendered inoperable in the wake of a storm, and subsequently we received our water via Pittsfield's system, but does that impact the route the water takes from the Dalton mains to our quiet street? I hope not.

And, by the way, what happens if and when Pittsfield stops being a good neighbor and wants to keep all the water for itself? There are real water wars out West where drought has been a way of life for a long time, and farming, ranching, and recreation are severely impacted by the lack of water.

Yes, the water is back on now, and I've had my requisite cups of coffee; but I'm not finished with questions for the Dalton Fire and Water District. I want to know what your plans are for upgrading communication with your customers, especially in the area of rapid notification and the use of text messages, internet sites, and social media? What are your alternate sources of water in case of contamination or shortage? And about those maps

Anne Horrigan Geary is a regular Eagle contributor.


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