Water warning issued after vandalism

By Garrett Estrada

Ely Times Staff Writer


Garrett Estrada photo An act of vandalism on top of the courthouse water tanks led to a precautionary warning to city residents to boil tap water.

Garrett Estrada photo
An act of vandalism on top of the courthouse water tanks led to a precautionary warning to city residents to boil tap water.

A “Boil Water” order was issued to the city of Ely from the state capital over the weekend after the locks guarding access to the courthouse water towers were discovered to be cut as part of an act of vandalism.

The order, which warned Ely residents to boil any tap water before consuming it was sent by the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Division of Environmental Protection as a precaution, though according to Ron Jenkins of the city of Ely’s Water Department, so far no contaminants have been discovered in the water.

“What we are doing is we are taking precautions in the event that the individuals who cut the lock did do something to the water,” Jenkins said. “So far we don’t know if there is or isn’t anything in there. We have run bacterial tests and those have come back clean. So what we are going to do is run sets of tests through Thursday, looking for any contaminants. We won’t have the test results back until Thursday.”

He added that the affected area would be from “from 8th street just draw a line right there, then go to the north end of Campton, north of Avenue I and East Ely all the way to the airport.”

As of Tuesday morning, White Pine County Sherriff Dan Watts said two “persons of interest” were being interviewed about the acts of vandalism that included the suspected individuals climbing onto of the towers and “tagging” them.

“We do have two juveniles that the Sheriffs Department are interviewing at this time,” Watts said. “It looks like they got up there and did a little vandalism with spray paint and then they cut the locks off into the water tanks. Just as a precaution with the city, and we concur, we don’t want people drinking the water until we know there is nothing in there.”

The City of Ely’s Mayor Melodie VanCamp said that when word got out online, there was a run on bottled water at the stores and that the city of Ely’s website had to post that bottled water would be available at City Hall because stores were selling out.

“This so-called prank turned into a lot of man power and time and money,” VanCamp said. “The whole thing just got out of hand over something small.”

If the suspected individuals are found to be the ones who committed the vandalism, it looks as though they would have none but themselves to blame for being caught. In addition to painting some crude sexual images on the water towers, they also left a phrase “for a good time, call” followed by a phone number. The phone number reportedly belonged to someone who knew the suspects, who helped police find them.


Sign Up for Email Updates

Get the latest news, alerts, and more from The Ely Times straight to your inbox.


  1. Susan jJones says:

    I hope the teenagers who did this are forced to pay for all the testing and overtime paid to the city employees. I feel that this is a mild form of terrorism, whether they did anything or not to the water. It still scared a lot of people and they need to be held accountable for their actions. Even if they meant no harm, the locks were cut on a structure they had no business entering.

  2. Joel Vazquez says:

    I am considering a visit to the area soon but is it safe to travel across the desert with all those crazy gun totting nuts that have shown up to defend that deadbeat rancher?

  3. john peters says:

    I agree with the other post they should take full responsibility for there actions! Happened over the weekend. We weren’t notified till Monday afternoon. So we all used the water! If there was something wrong with it could be a little late. And I had to pay for water out my pocket to be safe. That they can’t pay for. And I think it could be a form of terrorism. And there idiots for leaving a phone # and leaving sexual tags. Hopefully they get full punishment and grow up!!!

Speak Your Mind