‘Full cost unknown’: Florence officials say 20M gallons lost in Christmas day water issues

Advisory lifted Wednesday morning
Published: Dec. 27, 2022 at 8:58 AM EST|Updated: Dec. 27, 2022 at 5:54 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - Officials in Florence announced the end of the water boil advisory Wednesday morning after a system-wide water pressure issue in the city caused a water boil advisory on Christmas Day.

“Following intense flushing of the distribution system, bacteriological samples were collected and analyzed by the City of Florence,” a statement from the city read. “The results of this sampling indicate that the system is safe to use for drinking and cooking purposes.”

Florence Water boil advisory lifted
Florence Water boil advisory lifted(City of Florence)

At least 20 million gallons of water were lost over the past few days.

Because of the water issues, the owner of Lula’s Coffee Co. shut his doors temporarily.

‘We know that our coffee espresso machines that make coffee heats up the water but everything else wasn’t gonna pass the DHEC safety certifications,” said August Langley, Owner of Lula’s Coffee Co. “So we decided to go ahead and close and wait to figure out what’s going on. Let the city take their time you know obviously with the holidays people were taking days off and so we knew that it would take a day or so to figure that out.”

Hemingway said the full cost of the situation to the city is unknown; however, these types of costs are taken into account in budget planning and officials will be examining the system to minimize future events and any potential impact of future events.

The city recommends residents leave faucets dripping and close vents to avoid these types of issues in future weather events.

Private businesses, warehouses, etc. should be weatherized, i.e. cast iron doesn’t handle cold weather at all, Hemingway said.

Residents concerned their water bills may be affected may be able to use the city’s established payment system, “Challenge Bill” available for customers to use once a year.

The city identified a water main break on Christmas Day which led to the water service disruption and the city advising residents to boil their water. The majority of the issues were contained west of Irving Street and east of I-95.

“Our citizens have been great,” City manager Michael Patterson said. “We ask, ‘if you see something, say it,’ and they did.”

Monday, city crews said the city water systems were continuing the experience a water pressure issue due to the cooler weather temperatures. At this time, there has been damage to water mains within the system and with private lines and fire sprinkler systems in businesses and abandoned buildings.

According to Hemingway, water plant production was not impacted by the issue and pressure began to stabilize Monday night. As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, water pressure is stabilized. The plants are currently operating at the industry normal, 50-psi.

“City crews are working tirelessly to restore water service to all our customers,” said Mayor Teresa Myers Ervin. “I’m appreciative of their continued hard work and dedication in resolving this issue for all our residents during this time.”

The city recommends customers boil water for consumption at least one minute vigorously prior to use until a notice of repeal is issued.

As for those businesses impacted, Langley says although it may be a waiting game until the water is restored, his biggest priority is keeping everyone safe.

There’s a lot of like unknowns and uncertainties and I’m so we’re still just trying to figure that out I guess but really the goal is just to kind of keep people safe.”

The City of Florence said the advisory remains in effect for any customers who have experienced low to no pressure and will remain in effect until normal pressures are restored and water samples are tested and cleared.

Ervin said the city is in contact with officials at Florence District 1 and owners of local businesses as issues were detected at the school and businesses in the city.

Residents who find significant water standing or flowing in a ditch, roadway, or on private property are asked to contact Public Works at 843-665-3236.