Dear Resident of St. James,
I understand that it is inconvenient to be on a Low Pressure Advisory but under the current situation the safest thing for our customers is to remain under an advisory until we are confident that it may be safely lifted. Staff is currently in the area of St. James taking samples and if these samples return negative when we get them back from the laboratory tomorrow then we can lift the advisory.
The reason that the advisory has been in place is due to the fact that there have been multiple leaks in the St. James area that have required complete shutdowns to fix. As recently as yesterday (Sept. 26) we had a leak that required much of the area in and around St. James to be out of water. We were also repairing a significant leak in St. James on the morning of Sept. 23 that put customers out of water. There were also smaller leaks too numerous to count that had some customers out of water. To implement and then rescind low pressure advisories multiple times or in piecemeal fashion creates confusion; people would not know whether they were part of the advisory area or not. The best action and that recommended by the Division of Environmental Quality is to keep the advisory in place until we are confident that areas will not lose pressure again.
Our staff has been working around the clock to make emergency repairs throughout the system but especially in the Boiling Spring Lakes, Southport, St. James, and Beach Road areas. Since these initial efforts require intimate knowledge of pipes and valves that are underground much of this initial effort cannot be delegated to contractors. We are fortunate to have crews on staff that have the knowledge and ability to make many of these major (at least four repairs on 24” pipe, see photo in this paragraph) repairs because contractors could not mobilize or assemble crews, equipment, or materials to make these repairs in a quick manner due to the floodwaters. As it was, we flew critical staff in by helicopter and flew materials in from around the country to make the repairs.
At least three dams breached in Boiling Spring Lakes that will require multiple repairs to 10” and 12” mains in addition to the 24” mains that required repair to get the hospital and nuclear facilities back in service. As you can imagine, these locations were a priority. Our first priority is restoring service to all areas and then lifting advisories. We have multiple repairs that are currently being engineered through emergency agreements and will be let out to contractors as soon as possible.
All effort is being made by our staff and the resources we have available to normalize our system, but it will take some time. We apologize for any inconvenience that this caused you personally. If you have further questions, please let me know.
John Nichols, PE, CPESC
Director of Public Utilities