Efforts to restore water continue in western North Carolina


ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Officials in the western North Carolina city of Asheville said Saturday they are continuing to restore public water to swaths of the region after freezing temperatures They cut service a few days ago.

City officials said during a news conference that water was being reconnected in south Asheville, as well as the lower-lying areas of southern and western Buncombe County, which surrounds the city. But an accompanying press release warned that “there will be fluctuations in water pressure and intermittent water losses as lines continue to pressurize.”

Parts of the service area were still shown to have discontinued service Saturday afternoon on a map posted online by city officials. They said their biggest challenge is returning the water to higher elevations.

A water production plant stopped working in freezing temperatures on December 24 after filters and other equipment froze. Authorities said the system can function normally without that plant. But frozen and burst pipes throughout the system reduced the water supply and exacerbated the problem.

That plant was restarted on Wednesday, but officials warned that the process of restoring service would move slowly to ensure safety.

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David Melton, Asheville’s director of water resources, said during Saturday’s news conference that he couldn’t say exactly when everyone would come back online. But he said, “we’re working around the clock to make that happen.”

City officials were also unable to say exactly how many people were affected. Earlier this week, city officials said about 38,000 people in the southern part of the system had received a boil water notice.

Asheville Fire Chief Scott Burnette said during Saturday’s news conference that water deliveries have been made to more than 1,500 people who applied.

“I am pleased to report that those requests have decreased significantly due to the water restoration efforts,” Burnette said.

The YMCA of Western North Carolina also offered their locations for people who had no water and needed to shower.

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