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2010-01-07 / Front Page

Water cut off to most of city - state of emergency declared

Arthur McLean

The Thomasville City Council declared a state of emergency today (Friday) due to severe water shortages in the Thomasville water system.

During an emergency meeting Friday morning, Mayor Sheldon Day briefed the council on the situation.

About half the town had water shut off Thursday night, and other sections of the city will likely be cut off Friday.

Thomasville has five water storage tanks with a total water storage capacity of 5.6 million gallons. By Friday, that number was down to about 500,000 gallons in the tanks. One of the city's elevated water tanks was empty Friday morning.

Water levels were so low in the rest of the tanks that the city's computerized pumping system shut down to prevent the pumps from running dry and overheating.

To keep the main water lines pressurized, the city shut off what areas of town it could with simple valve adjustments, including: Oakridge subdivision, Bishop subdivision, Nichols and MacMillan subdivisions, Country Club Estates, Linwood, the apartments on Quincy Ingram, and most customers south of Gates Drive. Areas around Choctaw Corner will likely be cut off next.

No firm timeline was given about when the affected areas would be restored, but it could be as late as Monday.

Thomasville sends water to Mid-Central, which serves Fulton and other areas. That connection has temporarily been cut off as well.

Day said city crews are working to track down leaks. One large water pipe leak was discovered behind the North Chase shopping center. Water there has been cut off after the discovery. Day also said crews are cruising town to find water leaks. "If we find water running under someone's home, and they're not at home, we're cutting the water off at the meter. We don't have time to track people down right now."

If you do find your water has been cut off at the meter (a lock will be on the meter) you may contact the city.

City employees were at city hall overnight Thursday night and will be working through the weekend fielding calls and tracking down water leaks.

Thomasville's main source of water is the water plant in Pine Hill. Under ideal conditions it can pump 800 gallons of water per minute to Thomasville, but heavy use from the other systems it serves has cut that flow in half. During peak usage, Thomasville uses 1,000 gallons of water per minute. "Normally, we draw the tanks down during the day, and we catch back up overnight, but we weren't able to do that this time because of people running water and leaks," Day said.

The city is trying to keep water service to what Day calls the "core" of Hwy. 43 through the middle of town and keep service to the hospital, nursing home and assisted living facilities. A tanker with 5,000 gallons of water was positioned at the hospital for emergency use there if necessary.

Day said if the shortage continues, the city may attempt to rotate restoring water service to different sections of town one at a time.

Major stores in town have been asked to order additional drinking water, and Thomasville, Grove Hill and Clarke County have agreed to jointly purchase a truck of drinking water to use if necessary.


If you still have water service, here are some suggestions that will help the city and your household:

* Cut back on washing of laundry for the next few days.

* Cut the number of times you flush your toilet.

* Use disposable dishes or eat out to conserve water from washing of dishes. (Restaurants have much larger capacity dish washers that actually use less water that many home dishwashers)

* Collect rainwater from your roof to water plants and flush your toilet.

* Report any water leaks to city hall as soon as possible at 636-5827.

* Be very careful with heaters, fireplaces and other activities with potential to cause fires. One major house fire may require use of over 30,000 gallons of water.

* If your water is off for an extended period of time it will be a good idea to cut your hot water heater off at your electrical panel to prevent possible damage.


If any questions contact City Hall at 334-636-5827. 


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