Two condominium buildings in northeast Boulder have been without water for more than a week after a main line break.
Residents living in the four-story Stratford Park West buildings at O’Neal Parkway and 30th Street were notified May 28 of the break and told the water would be shut off until May 30, but water had not yet been restored as of Wednesday evening. Two of six buildings were affected, and they are governed by a homeowners association board and managed by Hammersmith Management.
Residents have raised health and safety concerns as the length of the shutoff has lengthened. An anonymous letter posted to the door of one of the affected buildings called on residents to demand a new board and management company to restore the “badly deteriorating complex.”
Amanda Zahr and Seth Derichsweiler are new renters of a two-bedroom condominium in one of the affected buildings. They got their keys May 24, only to lose water access four days later.
They tracked down a maintenance man who offered them a 5-gallon bucket to fill at one of the buildings with working water, and they purchased antibacterial wipes to keep their hands clean. They’ve been lugging the bucket — which can weigh more than 40 pounds when full — to their apartment to flush toilets and do some dishes, and they’ve been showering at their gym.
On Saturday, they said, portable toilets appeared on site, but they’ve yet to use them because they don’t relish the idea of using a sun-baked port-a-potty.
“If we were physically unable for any reason to carry this bucket of water, how would we flush our toilet?” Zahr said. “Serious question.”
She said she’s seen people use a wide variety of containers to bring water back to their homes from the other buildings. She saw one of her neighbors carrying an empty blender to retrieve water.
She took issue with the fact that containers were not provided, and that residents have not received more communications in the eight days the water has been shut off.
“The fact that this can happen in a complex that’s so expensive, in a city that has so much money and is so built up, is insane to me,” Zahr said. “I can’t fathom how this is happening right now in Boulder, of all places.”
A Hammersmith representative said the company is not involved in the repair work. Leslie Johnson, Hammersmith’s director of community engagement, said the Stratford Park West Condominium Association’s board of directors declined the company’s offer to help.
“They have elected to handle it on their own,” she said.
David Askey, one of five board members, said he was out of town and might not have the most up-to-date information when reached by phone on Wednesday. However, he said, the board elected to use a contractor, Dr. Drain, that was less expensive than the ones on Hammersmith’s list. They used the same contractor for a break last summer when a line was patched, he said.
City staff recommended a new water main be installed rather than patching it again this time around, he said. He said residents should have homeowners’ or renters’ insurance in case of such incidents that might force them to stay in hotel rooms or seek other accommodations.
Another board member, who hung up when asked to provide his name, said the board is communicating via email blasts and door signs and doing all it can.
“The board is doing everything they can to get this situation under control and fixed,” he said.
The board’s president did not immediately return a call requesting comment.
Boulder spokeswoman Meghan Wilson in an email said a contractor contacted the city on May 29 to report the main burst and ask for permission to repair it, which typically requires a permit. The city gave permission the same day to start on the repair, though, because it was an emergency.
The contractor called Wednesday to request an inspection, and water will be restored if the repair work passes the inspection, she said. It was not immediately clear when the inspection would occur.
Although the city can provide recommendations to private property owners, it is ultimately the property owner’s responsibility, she said.
“The city does sometimes provide recommendations on private water lines, if asked,” Wilson said. “However, ultimately, it is up to the property owner to make these decisions in order to maintain private water lines and comply with city code.”