By Harold Reutter
Independent Staff Writer
Grand Island residents are being asked to flush their toilets no more than once or twice a day until electrical power is restored and the city's sewage plant and lift stations are operational again.
Residents also are being asked to treat their water with chlorine, particularly if it appears cloudy or rusty.
County health director Ed Edwards said residents should treat their water with chlorine before drinking it. They can do this by three drops of household chlorine bleach, such as Clorox or Purez, into a gallon of water and letting it stand 30 minutes.
Residents also can boil water for 20 minutes to purify it.
City officials say lift stations are being pumped with hoses and gasoline engines until electricity is available again.
Officials caution that flushing the toilet more than once or twice a day will create more sewage than utility crews can pump with the gas engines. This will result in sewage backing up into house, they said.
The sewage treatment plant, which is also without electricity, has a limited capacity to handle sewage, according to City Administrator Dwight Johnson.
Utility personnel are working to set up a portable generator to help increase the plant's capacity. They are working to repair the electrical feeder line to the Platte River Well Field so that pumping can resume there.
That would increase water flow to homes and businesses, but residents must restrict water use as long as the lift stations are without electricity.
City crews hope to return power to a portion of the city Thursday night.
City administrator Johnson said utility officials believe there will be substantial progress in restoring electrical, water and sewer within the next 24 hours.
The power plant, which was generating one megawatt Wednesday, was generating eight megawatts Thursday. As much as 20 to 25 megawatts could be generated by the one power unit still in operation. Additional power is available from NPPD.
Two more city generating units could be put on line if water could be obtained from the Platte River Well Field to operate the necessary cooling towers.
Utility officials said the power plant was never shut down, even during the height of the tornadoes.