City Manager Debra Campbell speaks from the podium
while Assistant City Manager Cathy Ball looks on.
At a glance
Monday’s water line break in the River Arts District was unrelated to the discolored water issue. Instead, it stemmed from an equipment failure in a construction project was completed on Sunday.
A water line repair last week caused significant amounts of sediment in pipes to turn the water a tea color.
No bacteria has been detected in Asheville water through either incident.
The City will make bill adjustments for those who had to flush their lines.
Because of our billing cycle, it could take as long as two months for the bill adjustments to happen.
At a news briefing Tuesday, City leaders expressed sympathy to members of our community affected by recent water breaks and discoloration.
“The City takes these incidents seriously and we understand that both residents and businesses depend on the City to provide excellent water quality,” said City Manager Debra Campbell, who led off the news briefing.
During the briefing, which aired live on the City of Asheville’s YouTube channel (where it is also archived), Campbell told those gathered, “First, we want to give a brief overview of the events that have inconvenienced people and some business operations and your daily routines. Secondly, we want to share what you can expect from us moving forward.”
Overview of recent events
Assistant City Manager Cathy Ball first addressed the break in the River Arts District early Monday morning. “Monday’s loss was due to an early morning break of a 24-inch water main. The break occurred after a scheduled water line construction project was completed on Sunday in the same area. It appears Monday’s break was related to a failure in a piece of material used in Sunday’s water line work.”
The next event Ball addressed was the water discoloration that became noticeable on March 26-27 and remains noticeable for some customers today.
The incident is related to a water line repair last week that caused significant amounts of sediment in pipes to turn the water a tea color. “Our crews have been working around the clock to remove the sediment from the system,” Ball said. “Based on the calls we’re receiving, it appears 5 percent of customers, or 5,000 people, are still affected by the discolored water.”
This remaining discolored water is expected to clear as the week goes on.
Water Resources Director David Melton then said the City will create an internal standard for communicating major water line issues. “What we will communicate clearly is that if water is completely lost, customers should boil water until further notice,” Melton said. This is done as a precaution, to give lab workers time to test the water to exclude the presence of bacteria.
“As soon as possible after a break occurs, the Water Department will directly communicate to customers, including schools, public housing neighborhoods, medical facilities and businesses,” Melton said. “Our goal is that you hear about the water issues from us first.”
City leaders closed by reiterating that no bacteria has been detected through either incident.
Melton also stressed that City staff will make bill adjustments for those who had to flush their lines. “Because of our billing cycle, it could take as long as two months for this to happen,” he added.
“I want to say that we can and will do better moving forward,” Campbell said. “Staff will be communicating better detailed information and will do a better job of closing the loop through all the channels we have communicated through.”
Archived video of the press conference is available at this link.