Water plant repair gone bad closes Adamsville schools early, customers system-wide impacted
The city of Adamsville, which supplies water to roughly 3,500 customers in west Hardin and McNairy counties – is experiencing water woes once again, leaving homes and businesses throughout the service area with low or no flow today.
Students at Adamsville Junior-Senior High and Adamsville Elementary schools were dismissed early because toilets couldn’t flush properly and sink faucets were dry or slow to flow.
City Administrator Steve Simon said at about 2 p.m. that water is running once again, but it is not known how long it will take to have the system fully recharged and back to normal operating service levels.
“We’ve got roughly 3,500 customers and lines running all the way out to Enville – it takes awhile to refill all of those lines, and we have to manage the system and fill it up gently. Some people have water right now, even though it may be lower than normal pressure, and I’m confident that by (morning) we can get everything recharged, and maybe earlier, but there’s no way to know for sure right now,” Simon said.
He said the issue began when workers, as part of the refurbishment and upgrading of the water treatment plant, began replacing a relatively short but important pipe called the “AC pipe.” The “AC” is short for asbestos concrete (or cement), a commonly used type of pipe for water systems all across America since the mid-1900s.
The AC pipe was being replaced as part of the planned upgrade.
The pipe is between the water storage tank and the “altitude valve.” Generally, altitude valves close at a preset maximum water level to prevent overflow of a storage tank and open to refill when the water level in the tank lowers.
“When we turned off the valves and got into the line, we started draining the system, but could not push water back into the system. That put the system into critical mode,” Simon said.
He said the draining was not planned nor intentional, and acknowledged that as the situation progressed, the city essentially “lost control of the system” due to the unplanned draining.
He also said that “we can’t lay this at the feet of the project contractor, I don’t think. They’ve been awesome and are working hard to correct this unfortunate incident.”
Simon said he is apologetic to affected customers, but noted that the project’s goal is to “give people water more consistently.”