COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - There are no plans to turn Columbia's water off. That's what city officials told the media Thursday morning following the setbacks workers have experienced while trying to shore up the Columbia Canal.
"It's not a question of if, it's a question of when and how," Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said of fixing the canal.
The citywide boil water notice is still in effect for most of the Columbia water system. Areas of Chapin, Ballentine and Irmo have been given the all clear. All others must boil water before consuming.
"We won't leave until we get this done for our citizens," City Manager Teresa Wilson said.
All water plants are up and running, including the canal plant, which is actually pumping out more water than it normally does.
The problem lies with the Columbia Canal. A large hole in the canal has caused the water level to drop too low for adequate pressure to the plant. Once a temporary dam is completed, water will pump normally. SCE&G, city employees, the State Guard, the National Guard, and private contractors are working on fixing the problem. Until then, pressure will be lower than normal.
Efforts to erect that temporary dam slowed when rushing water from the smaller opening in the canal toppled more of the earthen wall.
City officials say they were already laying lines and bringing in pumps to pull water directly from the river.
Mayor Steve Benjamin says he's confident problem can be solved. "The system is running and it's running strong," he said.
Officials are trying to build up the rock dam to plug the two areas where it collapsed. In order to keep levels where they need to be, workers are pumping water directly into the canal and Broad River into the water treatment
Meanwhile, the city is working to bring in 275 gallon water tanks to its fire stations for people to be able to fill up bottles and anything else that will hold water. Officials hope to make those available to the public on Friday. The water must be tested first.
HERE'S A MAP THAT SHOWS WHERE THE CITY'S BOIL WATER NOTICE EXISTS: