Water crisis in Newton

Both lanes of U.S. 70 were closed Tuesday about 4:45 p.m. after public works officials cut a gas line while attempting to locate a broken water line. 

About 136 Newton residents in a 1.4-square mile area are without water after a water line break threatened the city's ability to provide water to customers.

Currently water service has been been discontinued for city water customers between St. Paul's Church Road and Boundary Street, including the Newton shopping center where Bi-Lo and several other businesses are located.

Elsewhere in the city, Newton customers experienced reduced water pressure. Water service was disrupted after a major water line break about 3 a.m. on Tuesday near U.S. 70 outside Isaac Construction.

Isaac Construction was evacuated following the broken gas line, and emergency responders diverted traffic from both lanes of U.S. 70.

By mid-afternoon Newton Public Works officials said the city lost about 3 million gallons of water. On an average day city water customers consume about 4 million gallons a day.

While city crews have identified the general area of the water line break, they have not yet uncovered the specific site. City workers removed trees near the site of the break along U.S. 70 to allow water to flow freely in hopes of discovering the leak's location.

One lane of U.S. 70 East was closed as work crews are working at the site. Newton residents were notified of the water line break through the city's reverse 9-1-1 phone system before 7 a.m. Tuesday.

At 2 p.m. Tuesday, Newton City Council called an emergency meeting to review the problem, along with emergency procedures that might be enacted if the city is unable to repair or isolate the problem water line. Newton city officials are urging citizens to conserve water until the problem is addressed.

For more information on this developing story check back with www.observernewsonline.com throughout the day.