About 40 employees of the Pasta Factory got an unscheduled day off Feb. 3 as a residual effect of Sunday’s water main break.
“We got a cease and desist and boil water order about 5:30 Sunday but we were able to use what we had pre-prepared and used boiled water and bottled water to get us through yesterday (Feb. 2) but that was it,” said owner Duane Jordan of the Martin Street restaurant. “We’re so reliant on it (water) here because of our preparations and services and we just don’t have the capability to boil that much water.”
Late afternoon Feb. 3 Len Robson, City of Penticton public works manager, was unable to put a time frame on when the advisory and warnings would be lifted.
“We’ve just got the first set of test results back but it is still to early to tell,” said Robson.
The advisory was issued after a 45 centimetre water main broke Feb. 1 around 10 a.m. at the intersection of Main Street and Wade Avenue.
In addition to the advisory which impacts over 200 properties and about 800 people in several square blocks of the immediate area there was also a warning for those living in surrounding locations.
“After looking at the problem we realized there was good potential for cross contamination of the water line because there is a sewer main in the same area and it was compromised,” said Robson. “As a precaution we spoke with Interior Health and decided it was prudent to put a boil-water notice out for public safety.”
A temporary fix was done on the main Feb. 1 and water service was restored to everyone by 7 a.m. Feb. 2.
Because of the unusual configuration of the main, which may have been installed as long ago as pre-1965, it’s not known when permanent repairs will be made.
Meanwhile, a number other businesses which rely on water to serve customers, including Jordan’s Tugs Tap House Pub and Eatery have been able were able to stay open.
“With Tugs I’m pretty sure we can carry it through. There isn’t the demands (for water) on the kitchen side of the business; there’s not the demands for water so we can boil enough water to make everything proper,” said Jordan.
He added there was even a loud cheer from Tugs’ patrons watching the Super Bowl when he announced water would be in a limited supply.
One Main Street business owner in the 400 block is upset the city provided bottled water for the only those in the 300 block.
“We’re paying the same taxes as everybody else, why are some people given privileges and others not. We have absolutely the same rules,” said Athena Demosten who runs the Cellar Wine Bar and Kitchen with her brother Nick Vassilakakis. “The point is the discrimination, the 300 block gets special treatment and we don’t. We have the same ban as they do from Interior Health and the City of Penticton.”
However Robson, who spoke to Demosten about the matter, pointed out the water delivery to properties in the 300 block was because they had been entirely without water, some well into the morning the following day.
“For the whole duration they (people outside the 300 block) had water. Her (Demosten) argument is we’re still under the same boil water notice my response was: yes, I understand that, but you were not out of water for the full day Super Bowl Sunday.
That’s why it was a token, here we’ll see if we can help you out, we inconvenienced you for that day and that’s what we did. It was a one-time thing just to help out.”
The only structure believed to have been flooded was the Penticton City Centre building which houses the ground-floor offices of CIBC Wood Gundy and several other professional firms.
The extent of the damage was not available, however, there was a sign on the Wood Gundy door Monday advising the office would be closed that day due to flooding.
Downtown Penticton Association executive director Kerri Milton sent out a reminder that most businesses are still open.
“Some restaurants and coffee shops have had to take a few items off the menu, but they have so much to choose from there are still so many options,” she said. “Please come down and continue to support our local hardworking business people. While enjoying your lunch, check out all the end of season sales and great buys. Through it all we are open for business in Downtown Penticton.”
Regular updates on the water will be available at www.penticton.ca.