County restores water after pipe break shutters schools

Workers have isolated the water main break that cut off service to a swath of central DeKalb County, leading to the closure of some schools.

The rupture of a 36-inch main southeast of the city of Decatur resulted in low or no pressure in schools. The city alerted parents after 11 a.m. that the schools would close for the day. The Museum School, a charter school near Avondale Estates, also closed, and several other DeKalb County schools had to use buses to ferry children to bathrooms at neighboring schools.

DeKalb estimated it would take two days to repair the decades old pipe on Parkhill Drive near Glenwood Road. By late afternoon, though, the county announced substantial progress.

“We have achieved the needed isolation of the large 36-inch line and are making the final repairs on it,” read a statement by Charles Lambert, Assistant Director of the DeKalb Department of Watershed Management. “The majority of the main system has been pressured back up to meet the needs of our public and should not pose any further issue during the repair.” He said only the area “immediately surrounding” Parkhill Drive would continue to suffer reduced pressure during the expected two days of pipe repairs.

The morning pipe break reduced or eliminated water pressure in parts of Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Clarkston, Decatur and Scottdale, Lambert said.

Decatur schools spokeswomen Courtney Burnett said all city schools had to be closed because of a lack of water in bathrooms. She said it would be a health code violation to remain open. The system started alerting parents before noon to come get their children. Around 6 p.m., the system alerted staff and parents that school would resume Friday.

The Atlanta Public Schools were unaffected, but three DeKalb schools besides The Museum School had to take action.

Avondale and Fernbank elementary schools and the DeKalb School of the Arts mustered buses to take students to nearby schools with functioning bathrooms, DeKalb district spokesman Quinn Hudson said.

It’s unclear what caused the break, but the pipe is more than 40 years old and had been scheduled for replacement under the county’s $1.35 billion water and sewer capital improvement plan. This break is near the spot where a 36-inch main fractured after Christmas 2006, flooding homes and forcing tens of thousands to boil their water for several days.