School District in the dark about severity of water problems in Andrews

  • Friday, January 31, 2014

The Georgetown County School District was unaware how bad the water situation was in Andrews. which led to the decision to allow schools to open on Friday.

Dr. Randy Dozier, school superintendent, said the first the district heard about the problem was when staff called on Thursday night to report a problem with water pressure at the three Andrews’ schools.

“My expectation would have been a call from the [Town] of Andrews that [they had] a real problem,” Dozier said.

The district contacted Andrews’ officials around 9 p.m., and were told the problem was being worked on.

“It would have been premature to make that decision Thursday night without knowing when it was going to be fixed,” Dozier said. “We assumed they would have it fixed [Friday] morning.”

Dozier said the district has faced water problems at schools before, but never one that took so long to resolve.

After being closed for three days because of the winter storm, Georgetown County schools were scheduled to reopen Friday on a two-hour delay.

Dozier said he hoped the extra two hours would have been plenty of time to fix the water problem.

The staff, and any students who had already arrived at Rosemary Middle and Andrews High schools were moved to the elementary school, and then buses began taking kids home around noon.

Dozier said staff members remained at the schools to monitor the water situation.

“It’s been a real challenging week,” he said.

Other agencies

Georgetown County Water and Sewer District has been working with from the Town of Andrews, Georgetown City, Georgetown County and The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to help solve the water problem in Andrews.

Raymond Gagnon, executive director of the GCWSD, said they responded first thing this morning and activated an interconnect valve connecting GCWSD water to the Town of Andrews.

“We have been feeding them water since 9:3-0 or 10 a.m. this morning,” Gagnon said.

“It is helping. They could immediately see their water pressure increase.”

GCWSD is providing water to Andrews’ well so they can fill their elevated tanks.

Gagnon said there is a leak somewhere that they are still trying to find.

He said working with the different officials has been like a “brotherhood of utilities” working together to solve this terrible problem.

Jim Beasley, spokesperson for SCDHEC, said they have no specific concerns, only a general concern associated with system pressure loss and the potential for contamination of those portions of the utility’s distribution system.

“Anytime there is pressure loss, there is a potential for contamination to enter the system. That is why we ask customers to adhere to the boil water advisory until it has been determined that the system is back to a normal operating condition,” Beasley said in a written statement.

“This is why we require the utility to issue a boil water advisory and conduct representative sampling throughout the affected portions of their system.

He wrote that their role is to “provide oversight of the utility to ensure that processes are following in accordance with state regulations.”

“The utility is assessing its system to identify the cause or causes of the low water pressure,” Beasley wrote.

“The utility is responsible for issuing a boil water advisory that offers guidance to its customers. Our staff and the county emergency management agency have been working with the Town of Andrews today to make sure this advisory gets distributed to customers, and the system is properly sampled.”

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