Water flow returns to normal

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 20, 2005

Selma homes and businesses once again have water flowing through their pipes after city crews spent Wednesday night repairing a burst water main that drained virtually all the tanks in the south end of the city.

At a press conference on Thursday, Mayor James Perkins Jr. said all residents should now have clear tap water.

“Everyone is back online and should have normal water pressure flow,” Perkins said. “If they notice a reduction, they should contact the Selma Water and Sewer Board.”

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The burst occurred Wednesday afternoon as a Distribution and Utility crew was replacing a fire hydrant on the corner of Jeff Davis Avenue and Broad Street.

“The crew installed a isolation valve when they replaced the hydrant,” said Robert Bridges, Superintendent of the Water Treatment Plant. “When the crews removed the old hydrant, the isolation valve was left in place. The 60-year-old line could not take the 50 pounds of water pressure, causing it to burst.”

Perkins said workers were in the ditch when the burst occurred.

“We were lucky that no one got hurt or killed,” Perkins said.

The burst line left most Selma residents without water Wednesday, causing nearly all the tanks in the city to be emptied.

Debbie Myers Peeples, Water Board Customer Service Supervisor, said the area of Highland Avenue to the Alabama River was affected by the burst water main.

Perkins described the situation Wednesday as a “first class” emergency.

“We regret the problems and the inconvenience this caused,” said Perkins, who is also superintendent of the water board.

Perkins said water samples have been taken to a Tuscaloosa lab for bacteria test. He expects to learn the results of the test by noon today.

“We are on a boil water alert until we hear the results,” Perkins said.

Ron Dawsey, Director of the Food, Milk, and Lodging division of the Alabama Department of Public Health, said the fast action of the Water Board workers was a big help to area businesses.

“County staff contacted the food establishments and grocery stores,” Dawsey said. “Most had their own response, like boiling water. Some of the restaurants had to close completely, while the grocery stores only closed specific operations.”

Perkins said the Selma Fire Department had water stored in tanks in case of an emergency.

“The Fire Department now has everything under control,” Perkins said.

Ray Mattews, Auxiliary Coordinator for the Selma City School System, said maintenance workers went to every school to ensure they had running water.

“We had to board up the water fountains,” Matthews said. “The ones we couldn’t unplug we put up signs warning people not to drink.”

Johnnie Leashore, Vice Chairman of the Selma Water Sewer Board, said he went out the scene of the burst and was impressed by the work of the crews.

“It took an incident of this nature for me to observe and appreciate the work being done by the Selma Water Works,” Leshore said.