City officials have been working for nearly a week to fix a water leak and, making a breakthrough overnight Wednesday, found a second water line break in the same general area around the U.S. 421/701 interchange. While more city customers have been added to a boil water advisory, city officials said water tanks are full and repairs are underway.
“Shortly after Florence hit, the city noticed we were having trouble maintaining ideal levels in our water tanks,” said City of Clinton manager Tom Hart. “We turned on some extra wells and pumps to compensate, but we knew we had a significant water leak on our hands.”
City Public Works crews have contended with the problem quite literally around the clock from then on.
“As you can imagine, finding a water leak in the middle of a hurricane is a dicey proposition,” Hart stated.
The city was in communication with Wooten Engineering and brought in specialists from the North Carolina Rural Water Association to assist. Around midnight Tuesday, in conference with Clinton Lew Mayor Starling, Hart authorized Public Works to start systematically turning off water valves throughout the water system to help locate the leak.
Using that method, City of Clinton utility crews early Wednesday located a major water leak near the U.S. 421 and U.S. 701 interchange. A large 12-inch water main near the bridge foundation had fractured out of view and most of the water from the break was discharging into a nearby creek and storm drain.
On Wednesday morning, the city isolated and cut off that leak, causing three water customers — the city’s wastewater plant was one of them — to be without water. City officials personally spoke with the other two customers.
The repair work on that leak was underway Thursday morning, but may take until Friday to complete, Hart noted.
While attempting to find one leak, another large leak was found Thursday in the same general area around Northwest Boulevard. As with the first, it was also isolated then cut off. That repair was also underway Thursday.
As a result of the two breaks, approximately 30 city water customers in the U.S. 421 North area were experiencing very low water pressure and were placed on a boil water advisory Wednesday. Approximately 45 more customers were placed on a boil water advisory Thursday morning as a result of the second break. City customers are being hand delivered boil water notices and offered bottled water from the city, Hart said.
As of Thursday morning, approximately 75 water customers are on a precautionary boil water advisory.
“After isolating these two major leaks, the city has filled its water tanks overnight on Wednesday, which should cause a drastic improvement to water service in the area,” Hart said Thursday. “The small water tank in the immediate vicinity of the two leaks is shut off while we repair the leaks, but will be back online after the repairs are made. We have a few more routine water leaks caused by the hurricane and city crews will continue to work tirelessly until all these issues are addressed and corrected.”
Throughout the work, many valves have had to be opened and closed, resulting in water discoloration for some customers.
“At no point has the city had any cause to believe the safety of the drinking was compromised and any customers that meet the criteria for a boil water advisory are being immediately placed on one and hand delivered notices,” Hart attested.
Hurricane Florence has impacted Clinton just as it has many communities in Eastern North Carolina, the city manager said, and work was ongoing in an attempt to minimize those impacts.
“The city has been working tirelessly to lessen the impacts of this storm on our citizens,” he said, “and these water issues are no exception.“
Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.