KEARNEY — Tony Jelinek, the city of Kearney’s utilities director, is confident in the safety of the city’s water supply.
As floodwaters rose on Tuesday, he said, the water is safe for human consumption because it’s delivered through pipes buried 5 to 6 feet underground. The pipes are deep underground to prevent them from freezing in winter, but the depth in which they’re buried also protects the pipes during a flood.
Ruptured pipes allow contaminants to enter the distribution system, but Kearney’s pipes are in tact and so the water they’re carrying is safe, Jelinek explained.
He also said the city’s wastewater treatment facility southeast of the city is operational, although the large volume of rainwater runoff and floodwater that’s making its way to the plant is reducing the plant’s effectiveness in breaking down and processing the sewage.
“The amount of water it’s designed for is about 4.8 million gallons per day,” Jelinek explained.
During normal operation with that lesser volume of water, solids in the sewer water have time to be broken down and naturally processed within the plant.
Even though so much water is surging through it, the wastewater plant is working, Jelinek said, however, it works best with less water.