Deep freeze breaks pipes, creates water crisis across South

Dec 25, 2022, 7:47 PM | Updated: Dec 26, 2022, 12:37 pm
FILE - Clouds are reflected off the City of Jackson's O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Facility's sedime...

FILE - Clouds are reflected off the City of Jackson's O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Facility's sedimentation basins in Ridgeland, Miss., Sept. 2, 2022. Officials in Jackson said the city's water system, which partially collapsed in late August, was experiencing “fluctuating” pressure on Saturday, Dec. 24, amid frigid temperatures. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Days of freezing temperatures in Deep South areas that usually freeze for only hours are threatening dozens of water systems as burst pipes leak millions of gallons of water.

The problems were happening Monday in large, troubled water systems like Jackson, Mississippi, where residents were required over Christmas to boil water months after most lost service because of a cascade of problems from years of poor maintenance.

They also are happening in Shreveport, Louisiana, where some residents had no water Monday. In Selma, Alabama, the mayor declared a state of emergency because they city worried it would run out of water. Workers at a food bank in Greenville, South Carolina, opened their doors to a rush of water and were trying to save $1 million in food. Police departments around Atlanta said their 911 systems were being overwhelmed by unnecessary emergency calls about broken pipes.

Dozens of water systems either had boil advisories in place because of low pressure or warned of bigger catastrophes if leaks from broken pipes weren’t found and water shut off.

The culprit was temperatures that dropped below freezing Thursday or early Friday and have spent only a few hours if any above 32 degrees (0 degrees Celsius) since then.

Water expands when it freezes, bursting pipes that aren’t protected. Then when the temperature rises, those broken pipes start leaking hundreds or thousands of gallons of water.

And over a holiday weekend, when many businesses are closed, those leaks can go undetected for days, Charleston, South Carolina, water system spokesman Mike Saia told WCSC-TV.

Charleston was on the verge of a boil water requirement for its hundreds of thousands of customers that could close restaurants and other businesses.

The system puts out about 50 million gallons of water during a typical winter day. Over the holiday weekend, its output was about 100 million gallons. More than 400 customers reported burst pipes, so between unreported leaks, closed businesses and empty vacation homes, the system figures thousands of leaky pipes are gushing water.

“It’s death by a thousand cuts,” Saia told the TV station.

The situation in Jackson was not as dire as August, when many of the capital’s 150,000 people lost running water after flooding exacerbated longstanding problems in one of the capital city’s two water treatment plants. Residents had to wait in lines for water to drink, cook, bathe and flush toilets.

But there were people without water pressure and the city set up an emergency water distribution site on Christmas.

“We continue to struggle to return pressure to the water system. We are producing significant amounts of water and pushing that into the system but the pressure is not increasing — despite those efforts at the plants. The issue has to be significant leaks in the system that we have yet to identify,” Jackson officials said in a statement.

In Selma, Mayor James Perkins Jr. issued an emergency order Christmas Day asking owners to go to their businesses and check for leaks before the city ran out of water.

Crews in the city of 18,000 were able to find and fix enough leaks to equalize the amount of water coming into and out of the system, Perkins said Monday in a statement. But there was a major leak that hasn’t yet been found and two more nights that are forecast to be below freezing, the mayor said.

Broken pipes were also causing problems at individual buildings. A massive leak was reported at the Alabama Statehouse in Montgomery on Christmas Eve, according to WFSA-TV.

At the Harvest Hope Food Bank in Greenville, South Carolina, employees opened the building Monday morning and several inches of water rushed out. Broken pipes were spraying water and workers turned away dozens of needy people, the food bank said.

The water cut power to the food bank’s freezers and refrigerators, and workers faced the double challenge of getting power restored before the food spoiled and keeping water out of the area. Up to $1 million of food could be destroyed, the food bank said.

The forecast did provide good news. Monday’s highs across the Deep South were expected to be at least in the 40s and the freezing temperatures at night shouldn’t last as long until a much warmup arrives later this week.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Protesters gather in front of police headquarters while marching Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, in Memphi...
Associated Press

Memphis police disband unit that fatally beat Tyre Nichols

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis police chief disbanded the city’s so-called Scorpion unit on Saturday, citing a “cloud of dishonor” from newly released video that showed some of its officers beating Tyre Nichols to death after stopping the Black motorist. Police Director Cerelyn “CJ” Davis acted a day after the harrowing video emerged, saying […]
1 day ago
FILE - The Chinese Embassy is pictured in Tokyo on Jan. 11, 2023. China announced it was resuming i...
Associated Press

China announces resumption of visas for Japanese

TOKYO (AP) — China announced it was resuming issuing visas for Japanese travelers beginning Sunday, ending its nearly three-week suspension in an apparent protest of Tokyo’s tougher COVID-19 entry requirements for tourists from China. The decision was announced in a statement posted on the Chinese Embassy’s website. China stopped issuing new visas in Japan on […]
1 day ago
FILE - Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi leaves the Conservative Party head office in Westm...
Associated Press

UK leader fires party chairman over tax bill allegations

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak fired the chairman of his ruling Conservative Party Sunday over a “serious breach” of the ministerial code. Pressure had been building on Nadhim Zahawi amid allegations he settled a multimillion-dollar unpaid tax bill while he was in charge of the country’s Treasury. In a letter to Zahawi, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Turkey issues travel warning to Europe following protests

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkey issued a travel warning late Saturday for its citizens living in or planning on going to European countries, citing Islamophobia and anti-Turkish demonstrations. The warning comes after last weekend’s protests in Sweden where an anti-Islam activist burned the Quran and pro-Kurdish groups protested against Turkey. The Turkish foreign ministry urged its […]
1 day ago
Oleksandra Hryhoryna inspects her house which was damaged by shelling last fall in Kalynivske, Ukra...
Associated Press

Russians gone from Ukraine village, fear and hardship remain

KALYNIVSKE, Ukraine (AP) — When night falls in Tatiana Trofimenko’s village in southern Ukraine, she pours sunflower oil that aid groups gave her into a jar and seals it with a wick-fitted lid. A flick of a match, and the make-do candle is lit. “This is our electricity,” Trofimenko, 68, says. It has been over […]
1 day ago
Rescue workers collect remains from the burnt wreckage of a bus accident in Bela, an area of Lasbel...
Associated Press

Passenger bus in Pakistan crashes, catches fire killing 40

QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — A passenger bus crashed into a pillar and fell off a bridge, catching fire and killing 40 people in southern Pakistan on Sunday, a government official said. The bus was carrying 44 passengers from Quetta in Balochistan province to Karachi in neighboring Sindh province. The accident was near the town of […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Deep freeze breaks pipes, creates water crisis across South