Blaine Releases City Workers' Emails During January Water Outage

Blaine Releases City Workers' Emails During January Water Outage Photo: KSTP/ File

May 05, 2017 01:24 PM

When the water went out in Blaine on Jan. 8, dozens of emails from angry residents flooded the city's inbox.

"I have no water! Why do I also have no information??" wrote one resident.


The City of Blaine released the emails in response to a data request filed by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.

Another resident wrote, "Our public works department is a complete disaster. They literally cannot do anything right. We have no water today, 1/8/17, and there is no communication on the website or through the phones and no way to get in contact with anybody."

Council Member Dave Clark responded to at least one email by writing, "Information was distributed via the city Facebook page, Twitter account, and city website as soon as information was available."

In an email to Finance Director Joe Huss, Web Coordinator Heidi Andrea wrote, "Just a bit frustrating, if the public only realized the circumstances we were initially faced with when making those first couple of posts."

The City of Blaine eventually got its water system flowing again but issued a precautionary 24-hour boil water alert that was lifted at approximately 5 p.m. on Jan. 9.

RELATED: Water System Problems in Blaine Likely Caused By Software Failure

In the days that followed, city staff continued to analyze communication related to the water outage through a series of internal emails.

"We need to bring up the communication between Anoka County/City," wrote Andrea in an email to Utilities Supervisor George Linngren. "I have brought it to the attention of as many people here as I can. I feel like Anoka County didn't assist us very well in this matter."

"No not at all," responded Linngren.

Reached for comment, Anoka County Communications Director Erik Thorson defended the county's involvement.

"Anoka County Community Health and Environmental Services (CHES) was in contact with City of Blaine staff in multiple departments. Collaborations were strengthened through coordinated response activities and improvements continue," he said.

A Blaine Police Department report released in mid-February blamed the outage on a computer that notifies an on-call employee in the event of a water pump failure being inadvertently turned off. 


Tim Vetscher

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