This story is an interesting example of how the government in asking citizens to do something may have inadvertently triggered an opposite response.

1) Water main breaks. The city has 12 hours of clean water in reserve.

2) Police ask residents to conserve water.

2a) (not mentioned by Police) the city had access to a secondary water source, but tapping it would have contaminated the water system, rendering water undrinkable for 2 weeks, requiring water to be boiled. At no point was the city in danger of running OUT of water.

3) Without knowing that emergency water was available, some residents hoarded water (filling buckets, bathtubs, what-have-you), potentially using up the water reserve, and forcing the decision point for use of the un-sanitary water to be moved up.

It is interesting scenario. How could the city have communicated things differently, and what outcome would that have presented?

Water main rupture draws attention to Sitka’s backup plan | KCAW

After a contractor accidentally ruptured Sitka’s primary water main, workers rushed to repair it. (Photo courtesy of Jay Sweeney)