Baldwin County Water and Sewer Superintendent Jason Kidd sat in the front seat of a hellacious ride the last two weeks.
He delivered the play-by-play at Tuesday’s Baldwin County Commission meeting.
During recent 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.
“Whether it be a drip or a steady flow, it’s kind of amazing it drained our system that bad,” the water superintendent said. “It’s nerve-racking.”
Kidd said the county experienced 22 service leaks by Jan. 8.
“In the meantime, our tanks started dropping,” he said. “We realized something in the system was not right.”
Through conversations with Sinclair Water Authority, Kidd said parties decided to change water plant filters out that Wednesday.
Changing the filters took about eight hours.
“Our pressures and reserves were getting low in certain areas,” Kidd said. “The following morning at 4:30 a.m. we had a couple tanks empty, and I started stressing badly.”
The city allowed the county to tie into its water lines in order to boost storage levels.
Kidd said they county tied on at a rejuvenated Frank Bone Road station to fill up a storage tank on Hopewell Church Road. Line leaks in front of Baldwin High School created more problems.
Contractors assisted the county’s dire situation. Kidd said a remarkable six tanks had zero water.
County Manger Ralph McMullen said the county has never face more than three empty tanks at one time.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) mandated a “Boil Water Notice” to county water customers due to the low pressure.
“Our water was not tainted,” Kidd said.
The county connected to the city supply at Swint Avenue as well.
Workers placed a water meter on the line, getting the flow started for about an hour Saturday, Jan. 11.
“The city had a main break downtown, so they had to shut it off,” Kidd explained Tuesday. “As of Saturday afternoon, the city fixed the main break, and we started pumping.”
By 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 12, the county tank levels finally rose.
Several samples passed the EPD test, and the boil water advisory lifted the following Wednesday.
“Through terrible conditions, they didn’t stop until we got it fixed,” Commission Chair Sammy Hall, District 3, said.
Hall said on behalf of the commissioners he appreciated the city’s collaborative efforts.
“We’ve used this as a learning experience,” Hall said. “Hopefully, that will make our system even better.”
Since the county experiences no main breaks, McMullen said all those gallons went through the meters.
“Commissioners you will get some calls concerning high bills,” the county manager said.
As of Tuesday night, Kidd said the county system was still on the city line at Swint Avenue.
“I told them I’d stay on until Monday because I’m a little concerned about the cold weather,” he said.
The county water department purchased new pumps as a future precaution.
“We are ready for this if it happens again,” Kidd said.
The county was previously awarded a Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for multiple improvement projects such as underground and elevated storage tanks and pump booster stations throughout the system.
Hall said this work should help remedy the water storage issues on the southern and western county areas.
All improvements should be complete by the summer of 2015.