Atlanta investigating two more potential water main breaks

Boil-water advisory for customers near Joseph E. Boone Boulevard and James P. Brawley Drive could be lifted as soon as tomorrow.

Crews in Atlanta work to fix ruptured water main lines that have caused citywide outages.

Atlanta’s water crisis threatened to expand Sunday, when authorities announced they were investigating two new potential main breaks at Euclid and North avenues and at 1190 Atlantic Drive NW.

Residents and businesses in those areas, according to city officials, might experience the kinds of disruptions that have plagued Atlanta since the first water main break was discovered Friday near Joseph E. Boone Boulevard and James P. Brawley Drive.

Water officials said they temporarily shut off a 6-inch main at Euclid and North avenues to make emergency repairs there. Service was eventually restored to the 35 homes and four hydrants affected.

Meanwhile, a boil-water advisory for customers near that part of the city could be lifted as soon as Monday, if Atlanta gets authorization from Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division, said Al Wiggins Jr., the city’s Watershed Management Department commissioner.

“So far, we see that the samples are looking good. Water pressure has remained consistent,” he said in an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Sunday.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the Georgia EPD said the agency “is in close communication with the City of Atlanta and stands ready to assist as needed.”

In Midtown, water continued flowing from a broken main at West Peachtree and 11th streets, flooding the road and seeping into nearby buildings. Authorities don’t know what caused that break, though they don’t believe it is connected to the one at Joseph E. Boone Boulevard and James P. Brawley Drive, Wiggins said.

“We won’t be able be able to collect samples for the West Peachtree and 11th street area until we complete the repairs,” Wiggins said.

Some onlookers referred to the break as the “aqua apocalypse” or the “West Peachtree River.”

Robert Watkins waded into the middle of West Peachtree Street Sunday, using a bucket to scoop water gushing from the nearby broken pipe. Appearing tired but determined, he headed down the normally busy street nearby to Soak & Polish Nail Bar, where he said his bucket, filled to the brim, could come in handy.

”So we can flush the toilet and, you know, the different stuff that we need to do with water,” said Watkins, whose home was also without running water. “We pray they get those water lines fixed.”

Stan Reecy, who had just returned from his honeymoon in South Africa, was dismayed to discover he was among the Midtown Atlanta homeowners under a boil-water advisory. The water main break on West Peachtree Street is about 500 feet from his home.

On Sunday, he stood in front of Eleventh Street Pub, where a window appeared to be shattered from the water main break. A wooden board has now replaced that window. Security guards watched the entrance.

“Definitely a little shocking to see it right up the street from me,” he said.

Atlanta’s water system provides water for 1.2 million people, according to its website. City Hall is rallying to help those in need, said LaChandra Butler Burks, Atlanta’s chief operating officer.

“Our fire recruits were out every hour checking in with hotels and venues,” she said. “Our police recruits were visiting high-rises every hour on the hour to check on our seniors.”

Each resident who needs bottled water may pick up a case at one of six fire stations across the city: Station 1 on Elliot Street in southwest Atlanta, Station 2 on Jonesboro Road, Station 10 on Boulevard, Station 11 on 16th Street, Station 15 on 10th Street or Station 16 on Joseph E. Boone Boulevard.

Musician Megan Thee Stallion had to postpone Friday and Saturday’s concerts at State Farm Arena, but Sunday night’s performance was expected to continue as planned.

Joe Greene watches a water main break at the corner of the corner of 11th Street and West Peachtree Street, Saturday, June 1, 2024, in Atlanta. A water main that ruptured, causing thousands to lose access to water around Atlanta, was repaired Saturday morning but water may take several hours to be restored. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)


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Atlanta United’s soccer match against Charlotte FC will be played as scheduled Sunday afternoon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, the team said on its website. The stadium will have limited food and beverage options due to the boil water advisory, however. Kickoff was set for 4:30 p.m.

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport said its water pressure is fine and that all operations are normal after reporting low water pressure in some of its restrooms on Saturday.

In a 6 a.m. update, the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management said service had been fully restored to the airport, the Fulton County Jail, the Atlanta City Detention Center and several senior high-rise buildings.

Officials announced about 7 p.m. Saturday that crews had completed multiple rounds of repairs on the aging pipe at the junction of Joseph E. Boone Boulevard and J.P. Brawley Drive. The system was gradually being brought back online to allow for the rebuilding of system pressures, the city said. Another major break, at 11th Street and West Peachtree, was still being repaired, Dickens said at a press conference Saturday night. A “State of Emergency” was declared for Atlanta to free up resources to help with the repairs, and the city’s joint operations center was activated.

“We don’t yet have an estimate for the timeline for that work, but they are out there working feverishly to get it done,” Dickens said.

Mayor Andre Dickens watches as workers work to fix a water main break at Joseph E. Boone Boulevard and James P. Brawley Drive, Saturday, June 1, 2024, in Atlanta. A water main that ruptured, causing thousands to lose access to water around Atlanta, was repaired Saturday morning but water may take several hours to be restored. (Hyosub Shin / AJC)


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On Sunday afternoon, the city posted a photo of the mayor speaking with residents during a visit to a senior center.

A spokesperson for Grady Memorial Hospital said water service was restored and that pressure had increased significantly. Bottled water was being given to patients and staff since the boil advisory remained in effect, but all appointments, procedures and surgeries were expected to continue as planned on Monday.

Emory University Hospital Midtown also announced it was “moving to normal operations” on Sunday following the repairs of several water main breaks.

The hospital said water pressure returned to normal overnight and that ambulances had resumed normal service. Emory also said it would to operate on regular schedules for outpatient doctor’s appointments, procedures and surgeries on Monday.

Emory University Hospital Midtown said it had to move some patients and divert ambulances Saturday, with the exception of those experiencing urgent heart problems. To keep the hospital cool and the air conditioning running, 58,000 gallons of water were brought in via six tanker trucks to use in the hospital’s chillers and cooling towers.

Water was also restored in the West End area Sunday afternoon, but the previous two days had been hard, especially for Derrick Avery. For six years Avery and his family have lived on Rose Circle near White Street, but this weekend, with no water, they had to leave for his mother’s home in Greenbriar about 15 minutes away so his family could use the bathroom. They also transported pots and containers for water back-and-forth, filling them as needed.

Avery, 47, has eight children, ranging in age from one to 14. The baby was fine, but it was difficult to manage the younger children without water, he said. Because they were not able to cook, the family had to eat out, putting an unexpected $200 dent in the family budget. When the water initially stopped on Friday, Avery called the city’s 311 nonemergency number where he stayed on hold for an hour before hanging up. He was never able to reach anyone for answers. It was inconvenient, he said, “but we made it work.”

Along nearby Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. across from The Mall West End, hairstylists Jacqueline Glover and Travis Campbell were working hard to make up for the lack of business the previous two days. “It was like the pandemic all over again,” said, Campbell, who has been working in the West End area for the past 16 years, including the past few in The Suites at West End.

Karen Chandler, a Greenville, S.C. native that’s lived in Brookhaven for 23 years, made a hair appointment for Friday with Siara Capri Hair, another salon located in The Suites but had to reschedule.

No water also meant the one bathroom the salons share was shut down. Capri had to turn down three customers, she said.

With others, “I made it work, but I wasn’t able to wash their hair,” she said.

Nationwide, a water main break happens every two minutes and an estimated 6 billion gallons of treated water are lost each day, enough to fill more than 9,000 swimming pools, according to a 2021 report by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

That report gave the nation’s drinking water infrastructure a C-, up from a D in 2017. The improvement came, according to the report, as water agencies significantly picked up their pace in replacing waterlines.

Atlanta’s woes highlight the importance of investing in and maintaining such infrastructure, said Tom Dobbins, chief executive officer of the Washington-based Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies.

“It underscores the critical nature that water plays in our lives,” he said in an interview Sunday, adding: “My heart goes out to the people of Atlanta for what you are going through.”

Pam Burnett, executive director of the Georgia Association of Water Professionals, said she felt “heartsick” about Atlanta’s crisis.

“Water professionals, like medical professionals, put their full effort to ‘stop the bleeding’ in an emergency situation to keep the crisis from getting worse,” she wrote in an email. “Of course, the hope is that the line break can be brought under control quickly and notice to the public can follow with enough detail to explain the situation.

“Major and multiple line breaks are incredibly rare and difficult to address, and it’s frustrating for the public… and especially hard on the water professionals working in the trenches with everyone above them getting angry.”

— AJC staff writers Christopher A. Daniel, Janel Davis and Helena Oliviero contributed to this article.

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