Thousands of Customers Still Without Water After Main Break

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8PM Update:

Tennessee American reports they have begun making the repair and could fix it by Saturday morning.  But it will still take time after the repair for the system to return to normal.

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Thousands of people in the Tennessee Valley are still without water, after a water main break late Thursday evening.

Crews have been working all day to repair the break, but the work is taking even longer than Tennessee American Water had expected.

Repair crews are making progress, but it’s proving more difficult and time consuming than they had previously thought.

Around 10 pm Thursday night, Tennessee American Crews were working on a planned project at the main plant off Amnicola Highway. A water main break occurred in a 1960’s era, 36 inch pipe near where they were working.

Because such a large volume of water goes through that pipe, up to 35,000 customers were affected.

This morning, a prediction of 12 hours for much of the low lying areas of downtown to have service restored was made, but the repairs are taking longer than anticipated.

Daphne Kirksey, with Tennessee American Water, explains why.

“We have to turn a lot of valves in order to isolate this main break, and in order to isolate it or keep the water from flowing through there anymore, it’s kind of a tricky process, and um, if we didn’t do that then of course our workers who would be making that repair, would be unsafe,” said Daphne Kirksey, External Affairs Manager with Tennessee American Water.

Ms. Kirksey says they’re asking their customers who DO have water, to conserve – to refrain from watering plants, lawns, and even skipping showers. And . . .

“Because this event is taking longer, we are issuing, um a voluntary boil water advisory,” said Ms. Kirksey.

This water boiling advisory is only for Tennessee American Water customers, and only out of an abundance of caution, since she says bacteria may form in the water if it’s sitting stagnant for too long.

Amy Maxwell with the Hamilton County Emergency Management Agency, says water is being delivered to community centers, hospitals, and the jail.

“Operations at the jail continue to be as normal, we are providing water and also the portable toilets, for the inmates as well. We also have fire trucks that are there to help assist with the water efforts as well,” said Amy Maxwell, Public Information Officer with the Emergency Management Agency.

18 Fire Department Tankers are helping with fire suppression and water supply for local businesses and hospitals. 8 surrounding counties and all local volunteer fire departments were all assisting in the effort.

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Ashley is a lifetime Chattanooga area resident, and a 1987 graduate from UTC, with a BA in communications. While there, he was commissioned through the ROTC program, served simultaneously in the 1/181st field artillery Tn. Army National Guard, finished Airborne school, was a member of the Scabbard and Blade military honor society and ROTC Rangers, the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity, played snare drum with the UTC Marching band, and played in a southern rock band called Southern Atmosphere, while working a full time job as a trainer at the Sports Barn. He also won the Southeastern United States teenage bodybuilding competition during this time. Ashley has been with News 12 Now for 21 years. Prior to working here he was a videographer, director, producer and editor at Falcon Cable TV in Dalton, Ga. for 6 years where he produced thousands of commercials and dozens of hour long features. He also worked as a freelancer and employee at another network affiliate in Chattanooga. He has operated a part time video production business from home for 25 years. He says his passion is telling stories that feature people who give of themselves to help others, and stories that inspire people to make positive changes in themselves and their communities. Ashley is ecstatically married to Debbie Henderson, and has two step sons, a daughter in law, a sister, and lots of aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews. His parents are celebrating their 60th anniversary this year. Ashley and Debbie are active members of Brainerd Baptist Church. His interests include weight training and cycling with his wife, photography, poetry, playing drums, and checking off items from his extensive honey-do list. If you would like to reach Ashley, email him at ahenderson@wdef.com.