It was mid-afternoon on Monday, July 29, when Alvin Yellow Owl at the Two Medicine Water Company (TMWC) was notified the main water line that brings water from Lower Two Medicine Lake to Browning and the surrounding area was broken. Crews were dispatched to the site located just off Durham Road, a connecting route between U.S. Highway 2 and U.S. Highway 89 about halfway between Browning and East Glacier Park.
Having dug down to the pipeline, the repair crew found about 10 feet of the 20” line that needed to be replaced. They bridged the gap with fresh pipe and with collars around the joints at each end. Electrical wires were hooked up to the collars and a new piece of equipment - an infusion device - was used to melt copper wires imbedded in the collars, sealing them to the pipe.
The generator powering the infusion device broke down at 4 a.m. Tuesday, July 30, and it took another four hours to find a large enough generator to replace it. Crews found one from a local contractor. Six hours later water began to flow into the holding tanks.
Although TMWC had warned its customers to refrain from using too much water while the holding tanks were filling, by Wednesday morning it appeared to people that the problem had been solved and folks went back to “business as usual,” quickly draining the five feet of water that had accumulated overnight.
This left the outlying areas of Browning without water on Wednesday, July 31. Yellow Owl said TMWC bought several pallets of drinking water from Teeple’s IGA and Glacier Family Foods and those who were without water were encouraged to come and pick up a case.
Because of the break, TMWC issued a boil advisory to its customers while they sent water samples out to the laboratory in Kalispell. The samples showed negative results for contamination, and the advisory was lifted Thursday morning, Aug. 1.
TMWC was still asking its customers to conserve water while the system refills on Aug. 1.
Yellow Owl noted it took a crew of seven from TMWC and two local contractors working nearly 30 hours to repair the break.
(Editor’s Note: No update was available at press time due to the closure of all Tribal offices for the funeral of former Tribal Chairman William Talks About.