Columbia City Council approves another $600K for waterpipe leak contractors

City of Columbia's streets flood waters
City of Columbia's streets flood waters(clear)
Published: Apr. 5, 2022 at 5:29 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Columbia City Council approved $600,000 to help Columbia Water Tuesday afternoon.

The money is going toward “indefinite delivery contracts” with three contractors to complete repairs for Columbia Water customers.

The contracts serve as “pots” of money for the companies to draw from for city work.

A WIS Investigation found the department was at least seven months behind on service requests as of mid-January because of short staffing.

The $600,000 will be split into $200,000 boosts for the three contractors.

The move was outlined in the city’s customer response plan to help with backlogs in service calls.

The total investment in the contractors, if approved, would be the following:

  • Carolina Tap and Bore, Inc.: $1,700,000
  • Lake Murray Utility Company, Inc.: $1,350,000
  • G.H. Smith Construction, Inc.: $1,400,000

The money would come on top of a similar bump in December 2021.

Assistant City Manager Clint Shealy told WIS in March the goal was for the December money to last through the end of the 2022 fiscal year (June 30), but the city is aiming to move more quickly after winter 2022 added more leaks.

“The mayor challenged us, how can you do this quicker? So we worked with our internal procurement team and all the groups and we’re really utilizing those contractors more as extension of staff. We’ve worked the three out of the four almost out of funding so we’re going to be going back on April 5 and ask for more funding,” he said.

Shealy said moving forward the contractor work will be targeted at neighborhoods, to fix all the leaks in an area and address them as they arise.

“We’re not going to leave there until the leaks are fixed,” Shealy said.

In the March 31 WIS investigation, the 29203 zip code led all others in total service calls. A spokesperson for Columbia Water confirmed Carolina Tap and Bore and a fourth contractor, North American Pipeline Management (NAPM), have been specially targeted at the zip code.

WIS spoke with Dr. Constance Lorick-Walker about a leak at the intersection of Colonial Drive and Prescott road near a daycare on March 18 as part of that investigation. Columbia Water confirmed its a city project and Lorick-Walker said it’s been a recurring issue without substantial action.

“This water is polluted. It’s a danger to the children themselves, let alone adults, their parents. It’s an eyesore as well for our community, no one seems to care,” she said.

On April 4, it appeared the water had stopped flowing.

On April 5, a spokesperson for Columbia Water sent a WIS this update: Our folks were doing a trial run yesterday on the shutdown needed to make the repair. The goal is to have the repair completed by Friday.

The city council approved the funding without comment in its meeting.

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