Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Kids in Andrews got an additional day off from school Friday — most of them, that is. But the reason was not sleet or snow. Instead, it was because there was no water for most of the town Thursday evening and Friday morning last week.
There continue to be disputes among various parties about the cause, what happened and what didn’t happen, but the water flow is apparently OK as of Tuesday.
Andrews Town Administrator Mauretta Dorsey told the Georgetown Times on Tuesday morning that the problem with low water pressure was with an open valve on the water line between the town and Georgetown County Water and Sewer District.
Raymond Gagnon with GCWSD said that the Town of Andrews asked GCWSD to help by opening the interconnect.
“We did experience a break on our side of that interconnect,” Gagnon said.
“Unfortunately aging infrastructure doesn’t always work exactly as planned. What she didn’t include was that our other interconnect with the Town of Andrews did indeed supply them with water.”
Dorsey sent a memo to Superintendent Dr. Randy Dozier of the Georgetown County School District, saying that Andrews staff recommended Thursday evening and Friday morning that schools not open in the town because of low water pressure or no water for schools, homes and businesses.
Quoting from her letter:
“At 6:32 am I received a call from a gentleman by the name of Bill from the School District’s office inquiring about the water issues with the Town. I told him that Troy had contacted me throughout the night and that nothing had changed. He expressed his dissatisfaction and stated that they did not want to have the schools closed another day. I stated to him that the recommendation was still the same as the conditions would be unsanitary.”
Dorsey said Town staff worked through the night Thursday to try to find the problem. “The issue turned ouot to be a major line break on the Georgetown County Water and Sewer District’s side that affected our system.”
As previously reported online on the newspaper’s Web site and Facebook page, because of the water outage and uncertainty, the three public schools in Andrews were closed on Friday.
About 40 students from the elementary, middle and high schools went to school because they didn’t get the message about cancellation or because there was no adult at home to provide care for them.
By noon on Friday, school officials sent buses back out to take the children home, once they had confirmation that an adult would be present.
In the meantime, the Andrews Fire Department brought a truck to Andrews Elementary to provide water so toilets could be flushed.
The school district provided bottled water for drinking and brunch so the children would have something to eat.
School District officials on Friday said they weren’t aware how bad the water situation was. If they had known, they said, they would have cancelled school at the three schools in Andrews earlier Friday morning. As it was, they used an automated telephone system to notify points of contact. Some families were apparently missed because they had already left their homes. For the 40 students involved, school officials made sure an adult would be present before the children were sent back home on buses.
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control sent staff members to Andrews on Friday to check into the situation. It’s standard procedure, spokesman Jim Beasley said, to issue a boil water advisory when there’s a break or outage in the water supply.
In a notice sent out to water customers for the Town of Andrews, Dorsey wrote:
“The Georgetown County Water and Sewer District had a major break in their line on 521 and since the valve was open to receive water from the Town of Andrews, all of the water flow went in that direction. We are truly sorry for the inconvenience that this issue has caused all of our water users and we wanted you all to be aware of what occurred. The Town will take measures to find out why the valves were open as this should not have taken place. The Town will also safeguard our system to prevent this from happening again.”
On Friday, a spokesman for GCWSD told the Times that they were feeding water to Andrews.
Dorsey said in her statement that was not the case.
Because of the outage, Dorsey said, the town will extend the payment of current charges until Feb. 24.