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Tuesday, December 29, 2015
News Release


The extreme rainfall has been challenging for Columbus Water Works (CWW).  The flood waters overwhelmed the sanitary sewer collection system, causing twelve overflows.  These have all been reported to the Environmental Protection Division (EPD).  There have been several backups into homes as well.  CWW continues to work with our insurance claims adjuster and property owners to resolve these issues.  As the river and creeks levels recede, CWW staff will inspect sewer lines that are vulnerable to aggressive erosion to determine damages, if any.
The South Columbus Water Resources Facility (SCWRF), the wastewater plant, was flooded. The river level was so high that the gravity flow through the plant was impeded and the effluent sampler was submerged. Staff had to access the plant via boat. There was some leakage into the waterproof buildings.  Staff are making assessments of the damages which appear minimal at this time. Due to excellent response by the plant staff, the biological processes were hopefully protected, allowing the plant to be quickly restored to operating conditions. The plant is operational. It will take several days, pending laboratory analysis to determine if the plant has been restored to permit compliance.
The muddy river water stressed the North Columbus Water Resources Facility (NCWRF), the drinking water treatment plant, in removing turbidity. The plant experienced some mechanical failures (even with redundancy) that impeded the alum and lime feed systems that cause the muddy particles to settle out. As a result of the mechanical failure, higher than normal levels of alum passed through the filters into the distribution system.  The disinfection process was not impacted and chlorine residual testing leaving the plant and in the distribution system indicate effective disinfection.  The mechanical problems have been corrected and water production was restored to its high quality on Dec 26th. The drinking water is safe, but cloudier than normal. The Fort Benning water plant was off line during the event and was not impacted.

CWW is flushing the system based on customer calls.  It may take a couple of days for the water to pass on through to the outer reaches of the distribution system.  If you continue to have cloudy tap water please contact Columbus Water Works at (706) 649-3400 and crews will be dispatched to flush the system.
Columbus Water Works has been in contact with the EPD in regards to SSOs, the flooding of the wastewater plant and the cloudy drinking water. There will be a public notice required by the EPD in regards to the cloudy drinking water. We are awaiting their reply and will provide the necessary notification within the mandated 30 day period.

“I am extremely grateful to all of the Columbus Water Works team that worked many unscheduled hours during the Christmas holiday.  When they had planned to be with their family and friends, they had to adjust their priorities in order to protect and restore water and sewer services to the Columbus Water Works customers”, said Steve Davis, President Columbus Water Works.

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