By Chuck Crumbo
Published Oct. 14, 2015
In Columbia, it’s OK again to drink the water.
That’s the word from Mayor Steve Benjamin, who announced this afternoon that a boil water advisory has been lifted for all areas served by the City of Columbia’s Water Works .
“It’s not an insignificant accomplishment,” Benjamin said following applause from city staffers who flanked him at a 4 p.m. press briefing. The mayor noted that city workers, along with private contractors and members of the S.C. National Guard have worked around the clock since the historic floods of Oct. 4-5 knocked out water system.
Workers had to build a temporary dam, bolster levee walls and repair a dike damaged by floodwaters surged through Columbia Canal.
Officials initially lifted portions of the area served by the city water department from the system-wide boil water advisory between Oct. 7 and Monday. However, more than half of the water department’s 375,000 customers had remained under the advisory until this afternoon.
Those customers were in the downtown area east of the Broad River including the University of South Carolina campus, Forest Acres and Arcadia Lakes, as well as customers along Garner’s Ferry Road, and all areas east of Interstates 77 and 277 in Richland County.
“Following an intense flushing of the distribution system, bacteriological samples were collected and analyzed by the City of Columbia Water Works,” the city said. “The results of this sampling indicate that the system is safe to use for drinking and cooking purposes.”
Customers along Kay Street in the St. Andrews area will wind up again being placed on a boil water advisory Thursday while workers repair a 24-inch water line, said Clint Shealy, Water Works superintendent. That advisory will affect about 20 customers, he added.
Before drinking the water, Shealy advised customers to flush all of their faucets and empty ice trays made from water that was drawn during the advisory period. Customers with automatic icemakers should dispose of any new ice until they are sure the water line to the icemaker is clear, he added.
The repeal of the advisory also includes the lifting of mandatory conservation measures such as restricting the use of water for irrigation, officials said.