Water problem delays school start

A broken water line in Newton has impacted service to customers throughout the city and prompted area school officials to delay the start of school by two hours for students.

Students in the Newton-Conover School System, as well as those attending Balls Creek and Startown elementary schools in the Catawba County School system, will start the school year on a two-hour delay Wednesday morning. The delay is for students only - staff will operate on a normal schedule.

North Carolina's Division of Water Quality also advised the city of Newton to issue a pressure advisory alerting city residents to potential problems with water in the system, according to Newton City Manager Todd Clark.

According to Clark, overnight Newton's water system had low pressure, and in some cases no pressure.

"The public is advised to boil their water at this point," Clark said, "but nothing indicates that there is any bacteria in the water or anything that poses a threat to the health, safety and welfare of the public."

Clark said the city is "very close" to completing repairs on a water line break that occurred about 3 a.m. near the 900 block of U.S. 70 on Tuesday morning. He said he expected the city to have some water pressure back in the water system by 7 a.m. and regular water pressure restored in the system by 10 a.m.

Until then, customers throughout the city could experience very low water pressure, while customers near the broken line will have no water service. Clark said city water customers in an area bordered by U.S. 70, U.S. 321 Business, A.C. Little Drive near Fantastic Finds and Old Conover-Startown Road are currently without water.

"Depending on where they are, customers may have low pressure or good pressure," Clark said during an early morning phone call to The Observer News Enterprise on Wednesday.

Clark said the state directed the city to issue a pressure advisory because some parts of the city water system completely lost water pressure during the night. He said the advisory is a "precautionary measure."

After the water line is repaired and pressure is restored to the water system, Clark said the city would begin testing water quality.

"Within 24 hours, we expect to receive results that will confirm that the water is clear," he said.

For more details on this developing story, check back with www.observernewsonline.com throughout the morning.