Current Information, Updated 12-28-22 at 9:00 AM.
The Emergency Conservation Ordinance has been lifted for the Eutaw Water System. This will be the final update to the freezing weather event.
Our water tanks have returned to operational levels, and the wells are off. The system is running off tank supplied pressure and there is capacity for normal use and emergencies. To give an idea of the amount of water and stress our water system was under please see the following chart.
Our wells ran a combined total of 274 hours and pumped almost 9.3 million gallons of water during this event. We were able to discover a leak on the 16″ line delivering water to Boligee and identified several hundred customers with excessive usage or potential leaks.
We are very appreciative of our Water Department employees for working throughout the holidays to make sure water service for Eutaw was not interrupted and that the water system did not have any serious emergencies. We were able to come out of this freezing weather situation without emergencies, or boil water notices. This is a drastic improvement from two years ago where we were without water, or the pressure was limited in some areas of our system.
Previous Information from Freezing Weather Event
An update on the freezing weather conditions that affected our area from December 23rd until present. Currently, the City of Eutaw Water Department has implemented the Emergency Water Conservation Ordinance. We are anticipating that this will last no more than 24-48 hours, as our water system recovers from the freezing weather. This is not unique to Eutaw. Many water systems across the south have experienced issues related to freezing weather.
As a reminder, this is not unique to Eutaw. Several other water systems around the state have issues. Other systems were not as fortunate. The good news, first, we have not lost water pressure throughout the system, we have not had a loss of water in the system, and we have not yet discovered any main line breaks. As the weather warms, and ice melts, we may discover a few broken or damaged distribution mains that will need to be addressed.
So, what happened? On Friday morning, about 2:30am on 12/23 the transducers (equipment that measures the water tank volume) froze due to cold temperatures. As these devices froze, we were unable to monitor tank levels and the system was not able to automatically operate itself. Over the next few hours, the system was monitored carefully and switched to manual controls to ensure that tanks were full. Often, this resulted in overflows of the tanks as we were unable to monitor their levels remotely. It was better to overflow the tanks than to risk a low level.
Telemetry reading from 5:07 AM on 12/23/2022 indicating that the Landfill Tank/Finches Ferry Rd was at 232.53ft which is impossible due to the height of the tank being slightly over 140 feet.
Eutaw Water Department personnel have been manually controlling the water system by alternating wells to ensure system was operational. We have been leaving a well in reserve, or off, as much as possible to allow for a reserve capacity. After the fire on Prairie Ave, we were able to bring this into immediate service and provide additional capacity. As we are not able to monitor tank levels due to transducer failure, we were very lucky during this event.
As things have begun to thaw out, there are several customers with leaks, broken pipes, and the usual running the faucets. We need to ensure that our water system is operational and has the available capacity for fire protection. As the water pressure is supplied by the height of water in the water tank, those customers that live at the extreme edge of our system or that live on hills or slightly higher elevations may experience a loss or reduction in water pressure as the system is below a certain operational threshold.
The Water Conservation Ordinance is designed to ensure that our water system is operational for fire protection and critical operations. We would ask that customers with water leaks fix those leaks or to cut off their water meters. Non-residential customers will need to reduce their water use to essential operations only. Residential users need to stop running their faucets, limit washing and cleaning, and give us a few hours to recover from the excessive strain on the system.
If you are not able to fix your leak, please cut off your meter. If you are not able to cut off your meter, please let us know by calling or emailing. If we discover your meter using an excessive amount of water, or possibly having a leak, we will lock your meter until it is resolved. One customer leak isn’t going to bring down the system, however 100 customer leaks simultaneously can.
To remind citizens that the City of Eutaw is only responsible for the meter itself, and the distribution mains. Not for the connection from the meter to the house. For citizens that have had a line break or have an excessive bill the Servline Insurance on your account may provide assistance. We will work with customers, that have accounts in good standing, to provide payment arrangements if necessary.
Again, we were fortunate during this event, with good planning, and procedures, to ensure that the system did not fail and that water levels were maintained as best as possible. We are continuing to monitor the situation and will provide additional updates if necessary.