Update: Eastern Washington University said Marshall residents can use the fitness center's locker room facilities during the water crisis. Summer hours are 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Sept. 25.
MARSHALL, Wash. – Marshall, a small community southwest of Spokane, is currently under a boil water order.
But that order is effectively a technicality, as the town currently has no water at all.
The approximately 30 homes in the area rely on a local well for their water and last week that well's pump suddenly stopped working altogether.
"[The] water just began to trickle, and then it was gone," said Patty LaBeau, who lives in Marshall.
Since last Wednesday, the town has been entirely without running water.
"We can't do dishes, we can't take baths, we can't flush toilets," LaBeau added.
Some local stores have donated drinking water but even that has to be carefully rationed.
"We are only living on one gallon of water a day per person," LaBeau said. "That's all the water there is, there is no water for anything else."
The community is trying to make do but it's not easy.
"We bought a camp shower last night. It was not cool," said resident Rhonda Perry. "Jumped in the hot tub instead to get the stickies off and bought baby wipes at Walmart."
Marshall residents say they have received very little outside help so far. They've had to band together to fix their problems.
"We're on our own. We're just a small little community. Everything that is run here is run by volunteers," LaBeau said.
A small volunteer water board has been tackling most tasks. The president, Jim Brown, said every minute not spent at his full-time job is used to help get the town's water back up and running.
One source of help: A neighbor.
Jeff Horton lives across the railroad tracks from Marshall and his property contains a private well.
"We have plenty, so we're willing to share," Horton said.
Those who want to can drive to the Horton's home and fill up buckets with the hose.
"The town really has come together quite well. They really have," LaBeau said. "People have tried really, really hard to watch out for their neighbor."
"I think it's really important because without each other we don't have a community," Horton added.
Eastern Washington University has also extended help to Marshall residents. They are welcome to use the following facilities for free to shower:
- The University Recreation Center (URC) at 1012 Cedar Street from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- The Sports & Recreation Center locker room facilities from 6 a.m.-7 p.m. through Sept. 25.
Nonetheless, that community has a long way to go.
The pump needs to be completely replaced. That's a process that could take several more weeks.
Multiple tests have to be conducted, and then they have to determine what kind of pump to buy. Furthermore, pumps aren't cheap.
Even after the new pump is installed, it will be a while longer before the water is completely cleaned out and the boil water order is lifted.
That could mean more than a month without water.
"It's going to be extremely hard. Because when people quit donating, we don't have the funds to go out and buy water to supply to everybody," said LaBeau.
She said the town is in serious need of continued donations.
"We aren't asking people for monetary [donations]. We don't want that," she said. "We just need water to keep us going."