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Billings residents rush for bottled water after water plant temporarily shuts down

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Posted at 8:05 AM, Jun 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 10:05:49-04

BILLINGS — Late Tuesday, the water treatment plant for the city of Billings was shut down after its source, the Yellowstone River, rose too high for operations to continue. On Wednesday, multiple retail stores around felt shockwaves as customers rushed to buy bottled water and jugs.

When city officials announced Wednesday that the city has a 24-36 hour supply of water for the city in reserve, residents rushed to stores across Billings in search of water. Most stores had limits of one to two cases per person but even so, many were already sold out.

"We went to Sam's Club; we went to Costco. They both said they were sold out," said Robin Hartman, who was shopping in WinCo.

That was at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

At the press conference Wednesday morning, City of Billings Public Works Director Debi Meling said, "We are working nonstop to bring the plant back up." When the river levels hit 15 feet, city workers had to shut down the plant until river levels began to recede.

The city reported Wednesday afternoon that operations had resumed at the water treatment plant, albeit at a low capacity. With stores feeling the brunt of the reaction to this morning's news, many stores are expected to struggle to keep water supplies on the shelves.