Andrews businesses adjust to operating without running water

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ANDREWS, Ind. (WANE) — Nearly a week after learning their water supply was contaminated, businesses in Andrews are adjusting to getting by without running water.

People living in the town of Andrews were told last weekend that a well that had been previously out of service was brought back online last month to help supply the town with water. A couple of weeks in, a filtration system failed and the town learned there were unsafe chemical levels in the water. Since then, the people living there and the businesses have had to look at all the ways they use running water and adjust.

Both Kermit’s Food Shop and Bud’s Sports Bar said they are having to take bottles or jugs of water and heat them up on the stove.

“It’s pretty difficult because you want warm water when you’re washing dishes so we’ve got to go warm it up in a pan, add water to it, cool it down a bit, and just use that to wash dishes,” said Bud’s Sports Bar kitchen manager Douglas Hutchison. “We have to do that multiple times a day.”

It’s tedious and time-consuming, but they are told they are safe to operate as long as they do not use the water from the faucet. Kermit’s Food Shop employee Jamie Clark says the extra work is better than the alternative solution of closing down.

“We are still using our sinks,” said Clark. “Our health department has told us to use bleach in our bleach water like we’re supposed to and we don’t know what else to do. I mean, we just opened back up and we want to stay open.”

“It’s petty difficult because you want warm water when you’re washing dishes so we’ve got to go warm it up in a pan, add water to it, cool it down a bit, and just use that to wash dishes,” said Hutchison. “We have to do that multiple times a day.”

He called the process a pain, but said it was manageable. The challenge with using water from bottles or jugs is that they often have to make trips to get more water.

“It becomes a problem when we’re allocated a 5-gallon jug but we also have to use bottled water,” said Hutchison. “I went and picked up four more gallons today. We’re having to go and refill, run into Huntington and refill. It’s not a problem fully, but we have to be very conservative with our water usage.”

Hutchison said that the cost of gas has been a bigger concern than the task of making the tips but that he has been using the trips to try and help out the community.

“I’ve been trying to get a list of names or something like of people like, oh, they haven’t picked up water? Well, I can go deliver it to them or something like that,” said Hutchison.

The bar saw a dip in businesses during the first weeks of COVID-19 restrictions, but that it was starting to bounce back before Friday’s alert. He said he is confident that Bud’s Sports Bar will remain open and be fine but said he would like to see more being done to help the people living in the community.

“It would be nice to see maybe a National Guard unit activated,” said Hutchison. “Bring water trucks or something like that. Even if it’s not National Guard just government resource. A water truck or shower tents or something out here for the residents of Andrews. We’re worried more about the residents than we are specifically here because we can maintain.”

Hutchison said his family has lived in Andrews since 1999 and have owned Bud’s for the past couple of years. Bud’s sits near just south of the plume of contaminated ground, and that the basement of their building had to be sealed to prevent any vinyl chloride from seeping in through the ground.

He said he does not understand have the situation has advanced to the point where Andrews cannot use their water.

“I just don’t understand how it is getting to this point it is now,” said Hutchison. “Especially on the fact that in 2012 Well 1, which was known contaminated, was shut down permanently and May 7 it was opened back up knowing it was contaminated, and then nobody was informed until after there was a test over a month later. It’s a failure on not just the chain of corporations that keep pushing this issue back, but it’s also a failure on leadership and it’s a terrible thing that’s happening.”

A third business on Main St., the Ice Cream Vault, chose to temporarily close because of the water issues.

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