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Red Lodge boil order lifted; restaurants thrilled after tough week

Red Lodge restaurant closed
Posted at 5:01 PM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-22 10:19:50-04

RED LODGE — The boil water advisory for Red Lodge water users was lifted Tuesday afternoon.

Bacteriological samples collected from Red Lodge water on Monday tested satisfactory, according to a Carbon County news release.

The Carbon County Department of Environmental Services is advising all users to do the following before using water from the tap:

  • Flush the plumbing in your home by running all hot and cold water faucets for at least five minutes each.
  • Flush all appliances connected to the water line, like refrigerators and dishwashers.
  • Disposable filters that have come in contact with contaminated water should be removed and replaced.
  • Ice from ice makers should be dumped and replaced three times.

The order was issued after massive flooding of Rock Creek led to possible contamination of the city's water supply. Tuesday's news came as a huge relief to the city's restaurants.

"We have prep workers that come in the morning, and they would spend the first hour boiling water so we can have drinking water, hand-washing water," said Catherine Wilson, the manager at Red Lodge Pizza Company. "It’s been hard keeping up with that throughout the day because we have a lot of employees."

Red Lodge Pizza company sign
A sign inside the kitchen at the Red Lodge Pizza Company instructs employees not to use tap water to wash their hands, with the city still under a boil order for all public water.

Things have been very different from a normal summer week at the popular Broadway Avenue spot.

"We can’t use soda machines because they're hooked up to city water," Wilson said, "so we've been selling bottled water and bottled sodas. Ice has been tough - we haven't been able to make any and it's been hard to get it."

They finally got a large shipment Tuesday - 1,000 pounds is sitting in the basement - just in time for them to be able to turn the ice maker back on. But they’ve at least been open.

There are lots of restaurants with "Closed" signs around town, including the Red Lodge Cafe, whose sign goes on to read, "We will open as soon as we can," with an unnerving ellipsis attached. Luckily, it seems like that’s any day now.

"I wanted to make it as safe as possible before we opened," said Sheena Ernst, owner of The Wild Table.

Wild Table Red Lodge
The Wild Table re-opened Friday, June 17 after owner Sheena Ernst decided she could haul water from the well at her house, instead of having to rely solely on the city's boil order.

Ernst re-opened The Wild Table last Friday after making a plan that included hauling water from her house outside of town. But it’s nothing she hasn’t done before.

"I do a lot of catering, and for weddings, I have to bring big containers of water to the middle of the field that has no drinking water," Ernst said, "so we’ve gotten used to it as a group."

Ernst said her group feels prepared for anything after the COVID-19 pandemic, but Tuesday’s news is still a welcome message.

"The espresso machine and the ice maker," she pointed to. "To turn those back on again, it’ll be nice."

"Now that we have ice, we can do all of the fancy cocktails everyone likes," Wilson added. "Huckleberry lemonade margarita, everyone loves that."

Now that sounds more like summer in Red Lodge.