Maddox Orders Water Conservation in Most of Tuscaloosa Due to Line Leak
After a night of substantial flooding that left 2 dead, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox issued an executive order for tens of thousands of Tuscaloosa residents south of the Black Warrior River to conserve water.
Maddox addressed members of the media Sunday to brief residents of Tuscaloosa and Northport about the storm's aftermath. According to Maddox, the rain gauge at the Tuscaloosa amphitheater collected 7.4 inches of rain, with 4.51 inches falling within just two hours.
Tuscaloosa Fire rescue responded to 10 major vehicle accidents, 23 medical emergencies, 1 fire, 14 cases of flooding that required technical rescue, 2 electrical hazards, 4 downed trees, 3 lift assistances, and a gas leak.
Lastly, Maddox brought to light an issue that will liekly affect more than 100,000 people: a leak in the city's water intake lines is drastically reducing the water pressure at the Ed Love Water Treatment Plant.
Maddox told press that he believes the leak source has been narrowed down to a 2-mile stretch between Lake Tuscaloosa and the plant. The Ed Love Plant processes roughly 40 million gallons of water per day, and serves customers south of the river including the high-demand clients such as the University of Alabama and the Mercedes Benz plant.
The water pumping station's pressure is extremely low, operating below 10 PSI.
"We can only pump out a capacity of 22 million gallons today," Maddox said. "That's sufficient for today... It does set up some issues that we need to take very seriously."
Maddox said that the issue with identifying the leak is that the majority of the line is runs alongside the river and is either covered in floodwaters or vegetation at the moment. As for how long this will take, Maddox said it could be found in a few hours, or up to a few days. This problem will not impact customers north of the river, who are served by a different treatment plant.
"I have signed an executive order that due to the damage to raw water lines supplying the Ed Love Water Treatment plant, we believe that an emergency exists to supply water to consumers south of the Black Warrior River," Maddox said. "We are asking that all water customers south of the Black Warrior River are to take steps to begin the conservation of water.
This order applies the to City of Tuscaloosa, customers served by Englewood-Hulls Water System, Mitchell Water System, Citizens Water System and the Coaling Water Authority.
"This is certainly, I know, for people coming off of a very difficult night last night, not the best news, but certainly regardless we have the obligation to address this issue," Maddox said.
Customers south of the river are prohibited from using irrigation systems, washing vehicles excluding commercial car washes, filling up lakes, pools, ponds and spas and other miscellaneous tubs.
"We hope by taking these measures as individuals, that you will help us to use that 22 million gallons a day that we're still able to pump into the system and keep our tanks full, knowing that again it could days before we find this water leak," Maddox said.
"The issue is that it takes days, that can create negative effects to the community," he said.
The City has activated its Level 2 incident command, and he has been in talks with Governor Kay Ivey about how to proceed.
"If someone's not abiding by this order, they're only hurting themselves... We're buying ourselves time," Maddox said.
As soon as issue is resolved, the City will notify Tuscaloosa residents of the changes. Until then, all residents south of the river are urged to take consservation measures until the leak is found and remedied and the plant returns to its full operating capacity.
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