The Union Recorder

January 14, 2014

UPDATE: Boil mandate removal pending test results

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Baldwin County water storage tanks are back to normal, as of Monday afternoon, and local officials area awaiting official word on when the boil water notice can be lifted.

County Manager Ralph McMullen said most of the tanks “are just about to level off.”

The North Baldwin ground storage tank was the last hurdle to pass, according to McMullen.

Baldwin County Water Distribution Superintendent Jason Kidd said, “all tanks and water are back up.”

Even though the county water system didn’t have a busted main, environmental law requires a “Boil Water Notice” in effect until samples pass the safe zone.

“At this time we are out taking samples. They should be in the lab by 3:30 p.m. (Monday). Hopefully by Wednesday or early Thursday, we can have the boil water lifted,” Kidd said.

The City of Milledgeville water customers aren’t under the boil advisory.

Baldwin County officials will meet this morning for a “debriefing” to gather information and questions about the latest events.

“Then, we will meet with the [Sinclair Water] Authority at a future date pretty soon,” McMullen said.

The SWA produces the water for Baldwin and Putnam counties to distribute.

The called meeting will develop a better protocol in case another severe weather punctures a vital resource.

“We want to make sure that there are all kinds of contingency plans and better notifications,” McMullen said. “We’ll have Putnam and Baldwin there at the plant to discuss those types of things.”

During last week’s extreme winter weather conditions, excessive usage and water pipe breaks caused water service interruption within several areas of Baldwin County and the City of Milledgeville.

Cold weather, busted pipes and running faucets essentially emptied multiple county ground storage tanks on the South, West and North sides.

“It’s just one of those things that hit and was unexpected and here we are,” the water superintendent said. “We’ve worked non-stop.”

Kidd said county water department staff had a “stressful” week trying to tie into city water lines to get adequate pressure for fire safety and public health.

The city pitched in Wednesday at 9 p.m. to help the county shortage.

The county made connections at Swint Avenue and another hibernating pump at Frank Bone Road to run water west to the Hopewell Church Road tank.

“We are very thankful for the city,” Kidd said.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) issued a “Boil Water Notice” for county customers Thursday morning because a potential health hazard due to low-pressure areas.

The last posted update Friday warned county customers of air in the lines when faucets are turned on and milky water.

“We did lose pressure in our system. EPD requires us to do a boil water to protect everybody,” Kidd said.

All citizens that experienced water outages or low water pressures were advised to boil all water for at least one minute prior to use for drinking, cooking or preparing baby food.

Kidd said the county water quality never became dangerous. Water sitting in the line too long triggers the boil water mandate.

“Within three or four days your chlorine residual is still there, it’s just weaker than normal and that’s why they created a boil water,” he said. “I got in touch with EPD right away to let them know the problem. These were the procedures I had to follow.”

Citizens should continue to boil their water until they are notified otherwise.

Staff urges residents to report pipe breaks and conserve.

Anyone with questions is asked to call Baldwin County Water & Sewer at 478-445-4237 or visit www.baldwincountyga.com for announcements.

The county water department appreciates citizen action during this unprecedented challenge.

“Thank you for having the patience and being courteous,” Kidd said.