CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) – Tennessee American water says it still has not identified the actual cause of that big water main break a week ago that shut down a big part of Chattanooga.
In a news release, the company explained that its employees were working on a planned project to install a valve on a 36-inch transmission main.
While the valve work was being performed, workers noticed a large amount of water beginning to surface from a meter vault that was located near the planned project.
TennAm says it has not identified the cause but is doing an evaluation.
The news release added, “No utility is able to guarantee uninterrupted service. When events such as these occur, we do not provide for billing adjustments or claims for customer reimbursement of expenses.”
Here is a FAQ they prepared on the spill:
On the evening of September 12,
Tennessee American Water and its
contractors were working on a planned
project to install a valve on a 36-inch
transmission main, which is a large pipe
for moving water. This project is designed
to enhance the ability of Tennessee
American Water to maintain water service
in the event of a main break or other
interruption. While the valve work was
being performed, workers noticed a large
amount of water beginning to surface from
a meter vault that was located near but
was not part of the planned project. We
have not identified the cause of the main
break and concluding this evaluation is a
The main break repair was completed by early Saturday
morning, September 14, with the installation of a new
permanent ductile iron pipe and 36-inch valve. After the
repair, Tennessee American Water restored water pressure
by turning valves back on, filling tanks and flushing
hydrants to help reduce air in the distribution system and
water discoloration. This process is methodical and takes
time in order to avoid other main breaks or water quality
By Saturday morning, September 14, impacted customers
in lower elevations started seeing their water pressure
improve or, if they were without water, their service
restored. By Saturday afternoon, the majority of the
impacted customers had their water service restored, and
24 hours later their precautionary boil water notice was
lifted. By Sunday afternoon the highest elevation areas of
the water system had their service restored, which meant
all Tennessee American Water customers had water at
their homes and businesses, with only a limited number of
customers subject to the precautionary boil water notice.
EXACTLY, WHAT KIND OF WORK WAS
UNDERWAY WHEN IT HAPPENED?
On Thursday evening, September 12, Tennessee American
Water and its contractors were working on a planned
project to install a valve on a 36-inch water transmission
main. This new valve is an important part of a larger
system improvement project focused on resiliency.
WHAT WE KNOW?
What we know is that we were performing a planned capital
project, and, during the course of the work, workers noticed
a large amount of water beginning to surface at a location
near but not part of the project. We worked around the
clock to reduce the flow of water to allow the repair of the
main break and to restore the system.
Lee Davis, one of the attorneys who filed a class action lawsuit against Tennessee American Water, gave the following statement in response to the news release:
“After a week of mostly silence, Tennessee American refuses to provide the public with the facts and circumstances on what caused the largest water shutdown in city history. Instead, claiming ‘transparency,’ Tennessee American concludes ‘valve work was being performed.’ This is unacceptable, and our city and county residents deserve better. Today the water company tells area residents and companies that no bill adjustments will be made, nor will incurred expenses be reimbursed. This response exposes exactly why we filed the class action lawsuit. We demand accountability as to what happened, why it happened, and how we can be sure it won’t happen again.”