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Workers complete work on temporary canal dam

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Workers finished a temporary dam on the Columbia Canal about 6 p.m. Monday. Officials said it will still be some time before all customers will have potable water. (Photo/Chuck Crumbo)


By Chuck Crumbo
Published Oct. 13, 2015
Construction of a temporary dam made of rock and sandbags on the Columbia Canal has been completed, but city officials said today it will be some time before potable water is available for all customers.

“We were able to successfully close the hole last night,” Joey Jaco, director of utilities and engineering said, referring to a 60-foot-wide break in the dam caused by widespread flooding Oct. 4-5. “What we have is a good, solid rock dam.”

However, Jaco said there’s still “a lot of seepage” of water running on the floor of the canal that must be lessened “before bringing the level up. After that, we’ll start talking about actual repairs.”

Missy Gentry, assistant city manager, said the intake pumps at the downtown water plant can draw from the reservoir once it is filled.

Workers anticipate bringing water level back up by end of the week for raw water intake, she added.

Other key points involved in the restoration of water service include:

  • Bypass pumping will remain in place after the dam is complete.
  • A second 24-inch pipe from the Broad River to the plant has been completed and activated. Gentry said that it worked well all night.
  • The downtown plant can pump 30-35 millions gallons per day from the river.
  • The plant still is getting 12 million gallons per day from the canal.
  • Entire canal system was sampled Monday and officials are awaiting results.

As far as the system, all lines should be pressurized but some customers could be experiencing “air pockets,” Gentry said.

Those customers should open their cold water spigot for a couple of minutes to bleed the air. If water still does not run, they should then turn off the spigot and report it as an outage.

Mayor Steve Benjamin emphasized that the city’s water supply is “stable and strong” and that work is progressing to restore full service.

However, a boil water advisory will remain in effect for about half of the city water department’s 375,000 customers.

While working to get the water system back to normal, mandatory conservation measures remain in force and that water should not be used for irrigation.

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