Clayton progresses on water line issues while boil advisory remains

Clayton officials said Thursday they were making progress fixing water main breaks that brought several parts of the county to a standstill over the Christmas holiday, but that a boil water advisory would remain in effect during the work.

The county leaders said about 15 water main breaks had caused extensive damage and left thousands of Clayton residents without water or reduced water pressure after frigid weather moved into metro Atlanta on Dec. 23.

The county distributed as many as 9,650 cases of water to residents whose connections were broken and received 1,200 calls for emergency services. At least seven apartment complexes and two mobile home parks still had no water service as of Thursday morning.

“We’re sorry for what you’ve experienced during your holiday, Clayton County Water Authority General Manager Bernard Franks said during a Thursday news conference about the community’s water issues.

“We have heard and I have seen everything on Facebook and I take that stuff personal because I’m not only a part of the Water Authority, I’m a customer,” he said. “I’m part of the community.”

The water main breaks also caused the county to close some buildings, including three libraries and the tax assessor’s office. The county’s main elections and registration office also was closed, but relocated services to 285 Government Circle in Jonesboro. The officials said leaks in vacant buildings also contributed to water issues.

The water issues came at the same time that the county opened a warming station at Sequoyah Middle School in Riverdale for residents who needed shelter from the bitter cold.

The school system in a news release late Thursday said that Adamson Middle School, Mt. Zion High School, Kilpatrick Elementary School, Riverdale High School and Utopian Academy of the Arts also “encountered some significant damage due to the winter storm.”

The leaders at the news conference, which included officials from the Clayton County Police, Clayton County Fire, Clayton County Commission and the school board, defended the county’s response to the emergency, which some said was slow and inadequate.

“A lot of times the citizens don’t have the information as to what is going on in the background,” Clayton Commission Chairman Jeff Turner said. “We’re scrambling. We’re getting everybody together. We’re trying to get resources together to address those citizens in need.”