LUMBERTON — Water service has been restored largely throughout the city of Lumberton, although pressure is low and residents are being asked to limit their usage and boil tap water before drinking it.
City customers have been without water since Oct. 10, when a generator failed at Lumberton’s water plant and it was shut down. Until Saturday, the area around the Lowery Road facility was too flooded for crews to gain access to it and begin making repairs needed to get the system back on line.
Repairs at the plant and a successful link-up of the city and county water systems have sent water to the faucets of many city customers. City residents are being asked to boil their water before drinking it. .
At one point, it was feared that the city’s 10,000 customers would have to do without water for as much as month, but it returned about nine days after Matthew, which caused historic flooding.
According to Lumberton Mayor Bruce Davis, the plant is operating at partial capacity, with two portable systems assisting it. Davis said Monday afternoon that the city was bringing in two more portable systems.
Davis said water is restored at varying degrees throughout the city; some residents are experiencing very low pressure while others may have medium water pressure. Residents are being asked to conserve water in order to let the supply build in the city’s system. City Manager Wayne Horne said the city has about half the pressure considered to be fully operational.
Davis said Monday he was “very happy” to deliver the news of progress at the plant after initial estimates said it might be much longer before Lumberton’s water service was restored. Davis said how long it takes for the system to be fully operational depends on what repairs are needed at the water plant, which workers continue to assess. Horne estimated there may be a month of repairs ahead of city crews at the plant, but that residents should have at least some water during that time.
Crews were able to gain access to the water plant because of massive pumps that are draining 7 1/2 million gallons of warter an hour from West Lumberton and pumping it back into the Lumber River. Davis said because of the speed the Lumber River is moving, this additional water will not make the river flood again.
Testing has shown county water to be safe, but Lumberton residents are under a boil advisory because the city’s lines have been dry.
The city water plant has a capacity to handle as many as 16 million gallons of water a day, but typically processes 4 million to 6 million gallons day.
Sarah Willets can be reached on Twitter @Sarah_Willets.