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Town of Empire adopts proclamation of emergency as water woes continue

Man says he can't bring his newborn son home due to lack of water
Water tanker in Empire, CO
Posted at 10:03 PM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-30 00:22:24-04

EMPIRE, Colo. — The town of Empire, Colorado, has been under a boil order since March 20, and without sufficient reliable water for even longer.

A mayoral proclamation of emergency was issued by Mayor Wendy Koch and approved by the town's Board of Trustees and Planning Commission Tuesday. The proclamation, according to Koch, will enable town leaders to request more assistance from state and federal agencies.

Empire town officials point to a significant pipe leak, high levels of manganese and iron in the town's well and frozen creeks as reasons for the lack of water for residents.

“All of those factors, when added together, can bring about what happened,” said Koch.

Koch says a lot of behind the scenes work has happened in the days following the boil order, and residents should begin seeing noticeable improvements as soon as this week.

A replacement filter for the town's well has arrived in Empire, and Koch says it could be installed and operating by Friday, April 1. After Colorado state officials test and approve the drinking water quality, this could supplement the current supply.

Without water, several businesses in the town have had to shut down, leaving their employees out of work. Koch says she hopes the town can support the businesses and workers. But in a town the size of Empire, there simply isn’t the budget to offer widespread relief.

“This is a town of a little over 300 people,” Koch said. “We don’t have bottomless pockets. We will do everything we can to help the businesses. I don’t know what else I can say. They were notified the minute we knew there was a problem... I feel that we have done everything humanly possible and are going to continue to do so. And hopefully by Friday we will have running water.”

Several residents of Empire have reached out to Denver7 with their concerns and frustrations over the ongoing lack of water. Michael, who asked Denver7 to withhold his last name, owns a home in Empire. He and his wife just welcomed a baby boy last week, but they haven’t been able to take their son home due to the lack of water.

“With little to zero communication about this problem, it’s been very frustrating,” Michael said. “I understand maybe a couple days of no water, but come on. I mean, we’re coming up on two weeks. We truly need higher help… we need help from Governor Polis and from FEMA.”