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Village administration’s handling of boil alert gets failing grade

Carrollton’s Village administration dropped the ball big time this time.

It’s one thing for residents to have to put up with the storm drain mess for the last eight straight months, not knowing what streets will be closed and when, but to not have a comprehensive plan in place to notify residents of a water boil alert, such as happened last week, is inexcusable.

We understand that a boil alert doesn’t necessarily mean contamination, and that when pressure falls to a certain level an alert is suppose to be issued as per the EPA, but that’s not the point.

The point is village administrators did next to nothing to alert residents. We’re talking about a possible serious health issue here, not torn up streets. We understand that an area TV station was called and a hard rock radio station (according to an employee at city hall). Whoopee. We, of course, were not notified even though the notice could have been printed and uploaded to our website almost instantly and anytime. We, like many residents, found out about the alert some 24 hours after the waterline was severed.

One of the first things we did was go to the village’s website. Nothing - poor, out-dated excuse for a communication vehicle.

When we called the Water Department and asked why residents were not alerted, we were told there are only five employees and that they were busy repairing the break. Wrong answer. Actually, no one should have had to call.

The superintendent and employees of the Water and Sewer Department should only concentrate on repairing the problem. Resident notification should be handled by the village administrator, mayor or a designated person.

Here’s what should have happened:

Break happens at 11 a.m. Administrator or person in charge pulls emergency procedure manual shortly after. Police, fire department  and street department personnel are toned. Each unit is given a section of village and areas serviced by village water system. They head out at slow speed, flashing lights and playing an already recorded message on speaker system (or announcing via hand held from script). Repeat as needed. That’s if there isn’t enough personnel to go door-to-door. It’s a fairly simple concept and of course it would work. Within an hour or two nearly every resident would know of the alert. Neighbors and friends will automatically tell others who didn’t see or hear.

The school district also has an automated phone communication system that reaches households of students and employees. It probably would not cover all needed households, but could reach a large number. We’re sure school officials would have been happy to help if they could. They think and work together very well.

And, of course, Reverse 911 could have been utilized - if it were up and running as it was suppose to be years ago. That’s another sad commentary, but at the county government level.

We would hope that the village administration (and if they can’t,  won’t or don’t, council members should) very quickly put together a comprehensive plan to alert residents in a timely fashion when emergencies of this type happen, but somehow we can’t help but think of the old adage: “Past performance is best predictor of future behavior.”


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