The regional hospital (Centralsjukhuset) was also without water, forcing staff to reschedule non-acute operations.
The leak was discovered sometime between 2 and 3 am on Saturday morning. Affecting both Karlstad and Hammarö municipalities, the leak drained both the water tower and the pipe system. Water began to return to households in Karlstad around noon on Saturday.
“Everyone in Karlstad and Hammarö should have running water by evening,” Katarina Lindström, information officer for Karlstad municipality, told TT news agency on Saturday night.
According to Per-Anders Bergman, head of the municipal technology and property administration department, it might take several days before the leak is repaired. Karlstad municipality is encouraging residents to boil cooking and drinking water for the time being.
“Since the system was empty for a number of hours, unsanitary water may have entered the pipe system,” Bergman said.
“We are going to take water samples, but it can take several days before we get the results. Until then, the water should be boiled.”
Water for animals should also be boiled. Farmers with large animal populations can fetch water at the purification plant in Skåre.
Residents are also encouraged to use water sparingly for the next several days.
“Since we just have one pipe from the water plant open until the other is fixed, we want to reduce the demands on the system as much as possible,” Bergman said.
Non-acute surgeries at hospital in Karlstad were also postponed due to the leak. Several dialysis patients from the kidney clinic were sent to Karlskoga and Torsby.
“Acute operations can still be performed,” said hospital superintendent Jan Söderholm.
The leakage in the pipe was caused by the ongoing ground thaw following the cold winter temperature. A total of 50,000 households were affected.
“This problem occurs every year, but the effect this year was unusually large,” said Bergman.