YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - A Boil Water Advisory has been lifted two days after a major water main break caused several schools, businesses and government offices to close in York County.
Officials said the water is safe to consume. As more water is used throughout the system, residents may notice the water sputtering as air is released from the lines, or a slight discoloration.
Officials say 125,000 customers were impacted and close to 30 million gallons of water was lost due to a major water main break in Rock Hill Wednesday afternoon. The broken 20″ pipe was repaired around 1 a.m. Thursday.
According to the city of Rock Hill, the break happened at the Rock Hill water filter plant on Cherry Road. The break caused massive flooding on Cherry Road. Several local schools, businesses and government offices were closed Thursday as a result of impacts from the water main break.
The city of Rock Hill recommended local schools and businesses to close Thursday, Oct. 10. All non-essential York County government offices were closed on that day and the York County Sheriff’s Office tweeted that all non-essential sheriff’s office personnel did not need to report to work that day.
Rock Hill Schools and Fort Mill Schools were closed for all students and staff Oct 10. including all after school activities. Three Clover schools were also impacted as Crowders Creek Elementary, Oakridge Elementary, and Oakridge Middle schools were all closed on Thursday, October 10.
Clinton College was closed for Thursday and Friday. School officials say students who cannot leave campus should check with with residence hall directors for more information.
Winthrop University also tweeted that all classes are cancelled Thursday and Friday, and that offices were closed Thursday.
Piedmont Medical Center’s hospital was operational, but all elective procedures and outpatient surgeries scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 10 were canceled and will be rescheduled. The hospital says it has brought in an abundant supply of sterile, potable and drinking water to accommodate the needs of all patients, employees and visitors.
Winthrop University tweeted, strongly encouraging students who live on campus, to leave campus. School officials said staff should look to guidance from HR on taking leave on Oct. 10. Officials advised to not use campus restrooms until further notice.
“Everybody’s kind of just annoyed, kind of frustrated, like figuring out what are we going to do.” Winthrop University student Kennedi Harris said.
Town of Fort Mill offices were closed Thursday, Oct. 10, though trash pickup and emergency services continued as normal. The York County landfill and the Collection and Recycling Centers were open and operated on normal schedule with the exception of three York County Collection & Recycling Centers sites.
“There’s plenty of water in the Catawba River, it’s just a matter of how we get in, get it cleaned properly, and get it back out to our folks.” Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys said.
Late Wednesday night, the city of Rock Hill tweeted that crews were able to expose the broken pipe, and will secure the surrounding dirt to begin making repairs. The pipe, originally thought to be 24 inches, is actually a 20-inch cast iron pipe. It is one of several that feed water from the water plant into the distribution system. Officials said due to the volume of water, the plant had to be shut down to stop the flow and allow crews to expose the broken portion.
Field crews will continue flushing hydrants to clear any mud and sediment.
The city of Rock Hill says crews will pull samples from across the water service area to monitor water quality. The boil water advisory will be lifted once chlorine levels are stable.
“We thank our customers county-wide for your patience as we work to return to normal operations,” the city tweeted.
The water main break is linked to the age of the pipe. The pipe had been underground since 1949 and “outlived its life,” officials say.
Officials say they lost six million gallons of water in about an hour, and about 30 million gallons total.
Nearby fire departments, including Charlotte, worked with local officials in case of an emergency. Officials say this is the first time this has happened in the 100 years they’ve been in the water business. Officials ask York County and municipal water customers to reduce water use as much as possible while crews work to isolate the problem. The initial break resulted in low water pressure and in some cases no water for customers.
Around 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, officials issued the Boil Water Advisory and provided instructions for purifying water by boiling.
Several areas including Tega Cay, Fort Mill and Rock Hill sent out social media posts or website messages regarding the water main break.
Residents are advised to continue to monitor the York County website, and/or York County Government social media sites for additional updates. If you continue to have no water, low pressure, or cloudy water, please call your local utility provider, and they will communicate with City utilities staff to address the issue. City of Rock Hill customers can call 803-329-5500.