Atlanta boil water advisory: city remains under state of emergency due to ongoing water issues


Atlanta remains under a state of emergency Monday as it battles disruptions to its water service that began last week, leaving part of a major city under a boil water notice and underscoring the omnipresence of problems caused by aging American infrastructure.

“To the people of Atlanta, I want to apologize for being frustrated with you and myself this weekend,” Mayor Andre Dickens said on “CNN News Central” Monday morning, three days after the first in a series of water main ruptures. was reported.

“This is not how the city, nor visitors, nor residents intended to spend our weekend, having to boil water and deal with low pressure or water outages in certain areas.”

As a result, Atlanta Public Schools’ summer school and programs will not take place Monday, and programs “will resume once boil water advisories are lifted,” a notice states of the school district. Non-essential employees have been asked to work remotely.

The city has been plagued by water problems since Friday, when the first two in a series of water main breaks appeared along two pipes – one 36 inches, the other 48 inches – which, according to Dickens, were about a century old. . One of the failing pipes was installed in 1910, while another dated from 1930, the mayor said.

Repairs were completed on a break near downtown Saturday evening, hours before Dickens declared a state of emergency.

Repairs on the other break, at 11th and West Peachtree streets in Midtown, are not yet complete and crews were working on them Monday. Around 1 a.m., crews began shutting off water to several blocks in the area, causing a geyser rising from the breach to dissipate, Dickens said during a news conference at the scene later in the day. His administration is “laser focused” on solving this problem, he said.

Officials were “pleased with the direction the repairs were going,” said Al Wiggins Jr., director of the city’s Watershed Management Department. He would not provide a timetable for restoring service.

“Right now most people in Atlanta have water, we just want to make sure they boil it as a precaution,” Dickens told CNN, noting that analyzes of water samples water were found to be “negative”.

“I am hopeful that within the next hour we will be able to lift (the notice),” Dickens said earlier.

As of Monday morning, officials had no reason to believe the water main breaks were related, Wiggins said, although he noted crews had not yet been able to do a thorough inspection in Midtown.

Dickens said there were “a few minor breaks” on Sunday, two of which he visited: one at 1190 Atlantic Ave., near the Atlantic Station shopping district, and the other in the neighborhood of The city’s Candler Park. The Department of Watershed Management said repairs were completed as of Sunday afternoon, restoring water to 35 homes.

Firefighters and police who also spoke at Monday’s news conference said their departments were distributing water to areas where water had been cut off and stressed that first responders were not had not been affected.

Mike Stewart/AP

Water gushed from a broken water pipe in Atlanta on Saturday.

Collectively, the outages and ongoing repairs have left parts of the city without water or under boiling water advisories, forcing tourist attractions including the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca-Cola to close. Events, including two Megan Thee Stallion concerts scheduled for Friday and Saturday at State Farm Arena, have been postponed.

The disruptions prompted Emory University Hospital in Midtown to transfer dialysis patients to other hospitals and divert ambulances from its emergency department — although it resumed normal operations Sunday, a spokesperson said .

Meanwhile, the city has designated six fire stations where affected residents can fetch water, according to the Department of Watershed Management.

“I know this has been a difficult and frustrating day for many of you,” Dickens said Saturday in declaring a state of emergency, which allows the city to expand access to resources for repairs. “We all take this issue very seriously.”

Atlanta’s problems in recent days are indicative of a broader problem with crumbling infrastructure across the country. In the United States and Canada, approximately 260,000 water main breaks cost $2.6 billion each year, according to a December 2023 study by Utah State University.

The study found that the average age of failed water pipes is approximately 53 years, and 33 percent of water pipes in the United States and Canada are over 50 years old.

Kate Brumback/AP

A sign seen Saturday along the Beltline Trail in Atlanta’s Reynoldstown neighborhood, after water main breaks caused interruptions in water service across the city.

Dickens and the city faced criticism in the wake of the water main breaks, in part because of the pace of the response.

The mayor – who is up for re-election next year – said at a press conference over the weekend that he was in Memphis, Tennessee, on Friday.

He was in contact with members of his administration “every hour,” he said, before his return Saturday. “I was gone less than 24 hours and then I came back,” he said.

Dickens said he would respond “head on” to the criticism, telling CNN’s Kate Bolduan that he was committed to providing updates every two hours to keep residents informed throughout the weekend.

“I take it seriously, I take it to heart,” Dickens said of the criticism. “Residents wanted to see more of me on Saturday morning before the 2 p.m. press conference. I understand this and I apologize for it.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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