Boil advisory still in effect in Lumberton

by Donnie Douglas, originally posted on October 24, 2016


LUMBERTON — City officials and staff continue to work overtime with the hope that residents can stop boiling water that is for consumption either Tuesday or Wednesday, but they are not making any guarantees beyond saying an advisory could be lifted as “early as this week.”

City Manager Wayne Horne today said that tests are being conducted, and that “everything is showing clean,” but that there was also a setback today when a feeder line broke and had to be relocated.

The city lost water shortly after Hurricane Matthew hit on Oct. 8 when an intake pump failed, the Lowery Street water plant was flooded and a generator there died. Initial forecasts that residents could be without water for as long as a month were too pessimistic as city officials did work-arounds, bringing in portable systems that are now processing up to 5 million gallons a day, about what the city produces normally at the water plant.

The water is being put through osmosis and twice chlorinated but city officials worry that if consumed it could make people ill.

Some residents, especially in West Lumberton, are tapped into county water that is flowing through city lines, and they are not being asked to boil the water.

Lumberton residents have been told that water is safe to use for cleaning and bathing, but any that is to be consumed should be boiled. The advisory has played havoc with local restaurants, with some staying closed, others opening but with limited menus, and beverage choices being limited to canned drinks or bottled water.

The city is also busy trying to get the water plant back to work. Horne said Monday he believes progress is sufficient to say that it should be functioning a “little sooner than a month.”

For days, city officials couldn’t even get to the plant, but after multiple pumps were brought in to drain it, finally got to access the damage and figure out what equipment was needed and repairs to be made.

Horne credited Rob Armstrong, director of Public Works, with “leading the charge,” and said that the progress has been made with “staff, elected officials, FEMA and private contractors” all working together.

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