Newton water lines back in service

Newton restored to water service Wednesday after a broken water line affected citizens.

And while the tap has been turned on again, the impacts of the fracture in a 16-inch water main along U.S. 70 may continue into Thursday.

"Right now our system is pressurized, and we are not aware of any leaks or problems at this point," said Newton Assistant City Manager Glenn Pattishall. "Our crews, along with some crews from Hickory Sand worked on (the broken line) during the evening (Tuesday) and the early part of (Wednesday) and got it fixed."

Newton Mayor Robert Mullinax said the water line repair mission relied on a cooperative effort among the three municipalities, county government and emergency response agencies.

""It was a coming together of folks to help other people in need," he said, adding work to first locate then repair the line was challenging. "It was very frustrating, and it was a long 28 or 30 hours for our staff. .They worked solid for a long time, and just did a really good job. ... It made me glad I live in Newton North Carolina."

Please see page 4 in today's O-N-E for comments from Mullinax.

Pattishall said the broken line was a 16-inch water main alongside U.S. 70 near the 900 block of the roadway. City officials are unsure of the cause behind the break in the line, but he said that the line is "fairly old." Newton water treatment plant superintendent Tim Abernethy estimated on Tuesday that the line was originally constructed in the early 1950. The line was also 25-30 feet in the ground.

"I don't understand why there was a water line that deep in the ground," Mullinax said. "We don;t put water lines that deep now."

Repairs to the line were completed about 7 a.m., and by 10 a.m. full water pressure – about 100-120 psi — was restored to the system, Newton City Manager Todd Clark said Wednesday morning.

"We had to reduce the pressure enough to that it would slow the flow of water in the pipe so we could work on it," Pattishall said, adding this created a need for the city to issue an advisory about possible contamination of water in the system. "We can't say with any degree of certainty that there is contamination. The advisory was a precautionary thing. It was a state requirement, and we are complying fully."

The adivsory encouraged citizens to boil water before consuming or using in other methods such as hand washing or teeth brushing.

Pattishall said there is no evidence to indicate that any contamination has occurred dint he lines.

Once the system was pressurized again, water lines were flushed, and by Wednesday afternoon the city was in a position to begin testing water.
"We will have to test the water with about 15 different tests, and we have to run the samples in multiple different locations," he said, adding the procedures will test for water quality. "We have to wait and see what the test results are, and the advisory will be in place until results demonstrate that we have passed all our tests."

Until testing is completed and results verify water quality, citizens will at least have a water source available. "People can flush their toilet and they have water that they can use, but if they consume it, they probably need to heed the advisory," Pattishall said.