UPDATE 8:20 p.m.: Forest Park adds 9 a.m. distribution Tuesday 12/27

UPDATE: 7:45 p.m.: Video of long line at East Fayetteville Road water distribution

UPDATE: 7 pm: All four water distribution sites open

UPDATE: 2 CCWA water distribution sites as of 5:55 p.m.

Clayton County Water Authority crews are hustling to fix water main breaks and to bring emergency drinking water into the county after days of subfreezing temperatures.

The line for water at the East Fayetteville Road distribution point was lengthy by 7:40 p.m., as this video from Garrett Ashley shows:

The cities of Forest Park and Morrow have distributed limited amounts of bottled water to their residents. Meanwhile, many people are only learning of the water outages as temperatures rise into the low 40s and ice turns into running water in streets, homes, businesses, and churches.

Those who need a plumber should make sure the plumber is licensed with the State of Georgia. Look up a plumber’s license online at https://verify.sos.ga.gov/verification/ by entering the person’s name and selecting “Plumber” from the dropdown menu. You also can just select “Plumber” for a list of all current and lapsed plumbing licenses statewide.

The first CCWA bottled water distributions are from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 26 at these locations:

Fire Station 2, 5329 GA Hwy. 42, Ellenwood

Fire Station 4, 1034 E. Fayetteville Road, Riverdale [out]

Station 13, 264 North Main Street, Jonesboro

Station 14, 4610 South Park Blvd., Ellenwood

CLARIFICATION: ID not required

One case per vehicle.

More locations coming soon.

According to CCWA, “Staff continues troubleshooting and finding leaks, mainly in customer service lines. These breaks would have been caused by the below freezing temperatures and continues to impact our distribution system. This has led to low pressure or no water service for customers in several parts of the county.

“If a customer has a leak, they should report the leak immediately at 770-960-5200 (listen to the entire message and then select “0”) or via private message on our Facebook page @ClaytonCountyWater.

“Officials issued a boil water advisory on December 25 for customers with low pressure. Once water service is restored for customers without service, they will need to follow the boil water advisory as well.”

As of press time, CCWA had no estimate on when service would be restored to all customers.

CCWA issued the following advice for all customers Monday afternoon:

“Staff continues troubleshooting and finding leaks caused by the below freezing temperatures that have led to low pressure or no water service for customers in several parts of the county. Many being found are in warehouses, businesses, schools and churches. Clayton County Public Schools’ Maintenance staff is out checking all schools. 

If someone has a leak, they should report the leak immediately at 770-960-5200 or via private message on our Facebook page @ClaytonCountyWater.

“Officials issued a boil water advisory on December 25 for customers with low pressure. Once water service is restored for customers without service, they will need to follow the boil water advisory as well.

“CCWA notified Georgia Environmental Protection Agency of the issue and the boil water advisory. Customers are being notified via the media, Facebook (@ClaytonCountyWater) and its website (www.ccwa.us).

“During this boil water advisory, customers with low pressure should:

o          Fill a pot with water.

o          Heat the water until bubbles come quickly from the bottom of the pot to the top.

o          Keep heating the water for one more minute.

o          Turn off the heat source and let the water cool.

o          Pour water into a clean, sanitized container with a cover for storage.

“Customers should use boiled water that has cooled or bottled water for:

o          Drinking

o          Brushing teeth

o          Washing fruits and vegetables

o          Preparing food and baby formula

o          Making ice

o          Giving to pets

“To limit risk, customers should follow the instructions contained in this release.

“The complete CDC guidance can be found at this website: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/emergency/drinking/drinking-water-advisories/boil-water-advisory.html .”

The Clayton Crescent found several people, who thought their water had been cut off or that the office would be open on the Monday after Christmas, outside CCWA headquarters in Morrow:

Many fast-food restaurants were closed due to the water outage, including the Chick-Fil-A on Tara Boulevard in Jonesboro:

The Clayton County Humane Society issued a plea for gallon jugs of water for the animals to drink and for staff to use to clean up after the animals:

Numerous people on Facebook said they had no idea why their water was off. Some complained, saying they had paid for their water and expected it to be on. (Water service is billed by usage, which means you pay for what you’ve already used.) Others blamed poor customer service and wanted to know why their calls and messages had not been returned. The office is closed due to the holiday; those who have come in are taking note of the numerous outage reports but are focused on getting that information out to repair crews.

The Clayton Crescent saw a significant leak at the Laurel Pointe Apartments on Morrow Road in Forest Park. Water was running from the property to a storm drain at the bottom of the hill and most of the gutter had ice buildup, indicating the leak had been going for some time.

Further up Morrow Road, a home on the corner of Hickory Drive also showed signs of a pipe that had burst, and a sewer line apparently froze, pushing the contents out of the pipe and onto the lawn.

A string of lights had fallen into the fountain on Main Street in Forest Park and frozen there, posing a possible electrocution hazard.

At the Clayton County Warming Center at Sequoyah Middle School, water pressure had dropped at noon but people could still take showers, according to Volunteer Coordinator Drew Andrews.

In Lovejoy, City Hall has closed temporarily due to water damage.

In Fulton County, the City of Fairburn is telling residents their water comes from Atlanta Water, not from the city.

Customers want answers

Many CCWA customers have taken to social media to complain, asking when service will be restored and why the utility has not notified them of specific outage and repair locations. In response to one poster on Facebook, CCWA replied, “We are trying to be as responsive as possible. However, we want to provide the community with accurate information when we respond. Crews are out reviewing lines within our distribution system physically while also responding to customer inquiries. We are making adjustments to our distribution system as we identify leaks. Due to the severity of the impact, this process can take longer than may be expected. Repairs have been made to smaller water lines throughout the county. Water lines with larger impacts on the system take more time to locate. This is why are asking community members to report any leaks near their homes. Especially those near unoccupied properties. We understand this is frustrating. Our frontline employees have worked tirelessly to find a resolution and restore water service to our customers. We will provide updates on service restoration when we receive them. We greatly appreciate your patience.”

The Clayton Crescent is working to find out more about the kinds of pipe used in the water distribution system and their ability to withstand freezing temperatures. We’ll update when we hear back from CCWA.

Drinking (potable) water is sent from a force main through a pressurized water main that’s at least eight inches in diameter and made of ductile iron, to a pressurized service line, to your water meter. All of that is CCWA’s responsibility to fix.

Anything on the other side of the meter, including the pipe that brings water from the meter to your house, is the property owner’s responsibility to fix. If you see a frozen puddle on your lawn or leading from your house to the street, chances are you need to call a licensed plumber.

You can read past minutes of the Water Authority Board at https://bit.ly/3WNGZll

Surviving a water crisis

If your pipes are still dripping, you can collect water in clean containers:

Bring the water to a boil by heating it until the bubbles rise from the bottom of the pot to the top of the water:

Boil the water for one minute (60 seconds) to kill any germs that might have come through broken pipes upstream:

Let the water cool and pour it into sanitary containers for drinking, brushing teeth, making baby formula, washing vegetables and fruit, making ice, and watering pets:

Avoid fire hazards

The low water pressure around the county also poses a problem in case of fire. People should take care not to leave open flames unattended in this situation. You can use a lid to smother a fire in a cooking pan or smother a grease fire with baking soda or salt. We’ve asked Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services for more information about preventing fires when water is unavailable.

Keeping clean

You can use baby wipes or hand sanitizer to take a “cat bath” while the water is out. (Be advised: don’t put hand sanitizer on your most delicate parts!) You also can catch any water that is dripping from your faucet, boil it, let it cool off, and use that on a washcloth with some soap to bathe yourself and/or your kids. Pour a little water over the washcloth instead of dipping it into the container to keep your boiled water clean.

Stretching supplies

If you have access to other liquids to drink, like soft drinks, milk, or sports drinks, you can quench your thirst that way to make your boiled water last longer. Avoid drinking alcohol, as it dries out the water in your body.

If you value this kind of hyperlocal reporting, please support The Clayton Crescent with a monthly donation before December 31! We are a nonprofit news service. Our grantmakers will match your gift, which doubles the support we receive to keep bringing you local news. Visit http://donorbox.org/clayton-crescent and choose the “Monthly” giving tab. Thank you!

Robin Kemp is executive editor and CEO of The Clayton Crescent, which she founded in 2020. She has worked for Gambit, CNN, The Weather Channel, Clayton News, Henry Herald, and numerous freelance outlets....

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