Hurricane Florence could pose a threat to water services but officials with Wayne Water Districts are confident that the districts are prepared.
Steve Hamilton, water district manager, said wind and flooding damage are two of the major concerns during a natural disaster, like Florence. While most of the districts’ facilities are underground, above ground water towers or tanks could potentially be blown over.
To combat this, Hamilton said that the district keeps towers and tanks full during storms. The increased weight from the water inside the tanks helps keep them stationary during high winds, he said.
The other threat to water supplies is the excessive amount of water the storm could bring, with flooding potentially washing away water lines and disrupting service.
During Hurricane Matthew in 2016, anywhere from 20 to 30 water lines were washed out in the districts that extend the throughout the county, Hamilton said.
“We feel like we’re in pretty good shape,” Hamilton said. “We have crews available to deal with that kind of thing.
“We have generators in each district so we can continue to provide water to our residents, as well as diesel for the generators and gas for our vehicles.”
Hamilton said water lines washed out during Hurricane Matthew were replaced using a directional bore — a machine that installs pipe underground, with minimal disturbance to the earth above it. The replacements are expected to prevent the new lines from washing out in the future, he said.
If lines are washed out during the storm, Hamilton said the damage does not mean everyone in the area will be without service.
“Most of our system is looped, so we have valves on each end of the lines,” Hamilton said. “That means that if a line washes out, we can go close those valves and isolate that line and continue providing service to our other residents.”
In the event of a line washout, Hamilton said the water districts will conduct a temporary above-ground water transfer once it is safe to do so.
In Goldsboro, crews constructed berms at the city’s water treatment plant on Jordan Boulevard Tuesday to protect above-ground infrastructure.
City Manager Scott Stevens said Monday that damage to the plant could lead to anything from a boil advisory to a loss of water, depending on the amount of rainfall.
“We’re taking a more proactive approach to protecting the plant this time around,” Stevens said. “Whereas, with Matthew we kind of waited until the last minute. This time, we’re getting out there ahead of time.”
Goldsboro serves about 15,000 water customers, according to the city’s finance department.
Wayne Water District crews will be out after the storm but will stay indoors during the height of the hurricane. Hamilton asks residents to be patient once crews get to work and to frequently check online at www.waynewaterdistricts.com for boil advisories and other updates.
To report water service loss, Wayne Water Districts can be reached at 919-731-2310.
Wayne Water Districts includes five of seven district areas in Wayne County, with the two exceptions being Fork Water District and Southern Wayne Water District. Fork Water District can be reached at 919-736-2551 and Southern Wayne at 919-731-2520.