Work continued Friday morning to repair a water line that could ease Augusta's water crisis.
Last night and early this morning, workers replaced one section of the four-mile, 42-inch-wide line near Berckmans Road, said Augusta Administrator Randy Oliver. Workers began inspecting another section in the same area late this morning, to determine whether it is safe to reopen the line, which was closed in 1996 after it broke for the fourth time.
The line would bring an additional 10 million gallons per day into Augusta's two reservoirs off Highland Avenue. Using the new line, the reservoirs would draw between 42 million and 45 million gallons per day, compared to their current draw of about 33 million gallons per day, said Augusta Utilities Director Max Hicks. That draw barely keeps pace with Augustans' demand for water, which has averaged about 30 million gallons per day recently, he said.
If the 42-inch line were to reopen, the reservoirs, which have had low water levels since a May 22 equipment failure in the city's water system, would be full in about two weeks, Mr. Hicks said.
The new line also would help officials lift a total ban on outdoor water use for all areas north of Gordon Highway. The ban, which began at about 11 a.m. Thursday, was imposed after a 10-inch water main broke at 15th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard at about 1:45 a.m. Thursday, causing the water system to lose 1.6 million gallons.
If inspectors deem the 42-inch line safe for use, utility officials will begin filling it with water immediately, Mr. Oliver said. If the section needs replacing, contractors will need five hours to complete the work, meaning officials won't be able to begin filling the line until tonight, he said.
Even after the line is filled, officials will not begin pumping water through it until 24 hours later, Mr. Oliver said. Inspectors from Openaka, a New Jersey firm that specializes in examining water lines, said water must not be pumped through the line until then to allow concrete in the pipe to swell, Mr. Oliver said.