Efforts to restore water continue in western North Carolina
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Officials in the western North Carolina city of Asheville said Saturday that they’re continuing to restore public water to swaths of the region after frigid temperatures curtailed the utility days ago.
City officials said during a news conference that water was coming back online in south Asheville as well as lower-lying areas of southern and western Buncombe County, which surrounds the city. But an accompanying news release cautioned that “there will be fluctuations in water pressure and intermittent loss of water as lines continue to pressurize.”
Some portions of the service area were still shown to have interrupted service late Saturday afternoon on a map posted online by city officials. They said their biggest challenge is returning water to higher elevations.
A water production plant had gone down amid cold temperatures on Dec. 24 after filters and other equipment froze. Officials said the system can normally function without that plant. But frozen and burst pipes throughout the system drew down the water supply and exacerbated the problem.
That plant was restarted on Wednesday, but officials have cautioned that the process of restoring service would move slowly to ensure safety.
David Melton, Asheville’s water resources director, said during Saturday’s news conference that he couldn’t say exactly when everyone would be back online. But he said, “we’re working around the clock to make that happen.”
City officials also couldn’t say exactly how many people have been impacted. Earlier this week, city officials said that about 38,000 people in the southern part of the system had received a boil-water advisory.
Asheville Fire Chief Scott Burnette said during Saturday’s news conference that water deliveries have been made to more than 1,500 people who put in a request.
“I’m happy to report that those requests have decreased significantly due to the water restoration efforts,” Burnette said.
The YMCA of Western North Carolina also offered up its locations for people who lacked water and needed to shower.