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County water advisory rescinded

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By Staff Report

As of 9 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 10, it is no longer necessary to boil water or use bottled water for human consumption for most county water users in Shallotte, Calabash, Sunset Beach and adjoining areas that experienced low water pressure Aug. 8, Brunswick County Public Utilities Director John Nichols said.

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Ten customers from 7128 Old Georgetown Road SW to 7170 Old Georgetown Road SW remain under a system pressure advisory, Nichols said. All customers still affected have been notified directly with door hangers.

The system pressure advisory was rescinded based on laboratory analysis of water samples collected Aug. 8 and 9. Nichols said the water system has resumed normal operations.

Brunswick County Public Utilities water customers from Shallotte to the South Carolina state line experienced periods of low pressure and outages after a 24-inch water main break in Shallotte early Tuesday morning.

The break also affected customers of the towns of Shallotte and Ocean Isle Beach.

Repairs were under way by 9 a.m. Tuesday but continued throughout the day, and customers were told to be prepared to be without water service all day, county spokeswoman Amanda Hutcheson said.

Officials reported they were confident vacationers did not need to leave the beach.

Water pressure was restored by 2:30 p.m., Hutcheson said, though a system pressure advisory was kept in place.

Customers were advised to boil all water used for human consumption (including drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation) or use bottled water because periods of low or no pressure in the distribution system increases the potential for back siphonage and introduction of bacteria into the water system. Vigorous boiling for one minute should kill any disease-causing organisms that may be present in the water.

Water may have a milky or white appearance, county utilities director John Nichols said in the advisory. This is caused by air in the lines and is not cause for concern. This should go away as water is flushed through pipes.

The break happened near Mulberry Creek, where North Carolina Department of Transportation crews are replacing the Bridgers Road bridge, but Hutcheson said it is did not appear that construction was related to the break.

Nichols said the road construction was in the same vicinity as the pipe, but it was not over the top of the pipe or right at the pipe’s location.

When staff dug down to the water line break, they found the weld around an old tapping sleeve and valve on the 24-inch pipe broke free, Nichols said. The sleeve was a remnant of a bypass that was installed some time in the past.

“It appeared to staff it broke on it’s own, when they got down to it,” he said.

The existing tapping sleeve was removed and a stainless steel repair band was clamped around the pipe and bolted together as a permanent repair, Nichols said.

During the outage, Brunswick County opened a water refill station at 1371 Holden Beach Road for customers south of Shallotte affected by the system pressure advisory where they could fill their own clean water containers, with lids, for drinking or use in toilets.

Water from this pumping station was potable, or drinkable, and could be poured into toilet tanks to allow continued use of toilets in areas with low or no pressure while repairs were made.

Customers in the southern end of the county were asked not to irrigate Tuesday to help conserve water.

Ocean Isle Beach declared a Stage 3 Water Shortage because of the break: “A stage 3 water shortage emergency may be declared in the event of an immediate water shortage, as so declared by state and/or local officials, or when there is one day when water distribution system demand exceeds 100 percent of the county water production capacity or tank storage. County water production capacity shall be defined as the maximum volume of water that meets or exceeds state and federal standards that the water treatment process can produce during 24-hour period. County water production capacity can vary depending on system component reliability and/or raw water conditions.”

Sunset Beach Town Hall and the public restrooms at the gazebo and the town park were closed until the water issue was resolved.

Shallotte, Ocean Isle Beach and Waccamaw parks, as well as the Rourk Library Branch in Shallotte, were closed Tuesday because of the break.