Salisbury loses power at pumping station; water customers asked to take emergency conservation measures
By Mark Wineka
Salisbury officials asked water customers to take emergency conservation measures Thursday as crews worked feverishly to repair electrical damages at the Yadkin River pump station.
The loss of power at the intake has prohibited the pumping of raw water to a city reservoir.
Contractors were spending Thursday night trying to bring two 5-million-gallons-a-day diesel pumps on line. If successful, the pumps could provide 7.5 million to 8 million gallons a day of water, which is about the average daily use this time of year.
“Tomorrow’s a real important day,” City Manager David Treme said Thursday. “If everyone would help us tomorrow, that would greatly assist us.”
At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, city officials asked customers of Salisbury-Rowan Utilities to initiate Level II mandatory water conservation measures. The city’s top water users were being informed of the emergency and asked to conserve water as much as possible without affecting their operations.
The city also has activated its emergency water connection to Statesville. That waterline can supply up to 2 million gallons of water a day. Salisbury-Rowan Utilities Director Jim Behmer said Salisbury was receiving about 250,000 gallons as of Thursday.
In addition, Salisbury asked China Grove, Landis and Kannapolis not to use their normal daily allocations from Salisbury. That will save the city about 670,000 gallons that usually go to those municipalities.
Salisbury Fire Chief Bob Parnell contacted area volunteer departments and asked them to restrict all unnecessary water usage. The Fire Department has initiated “established procedures” to ensure an adequate supply of water should a major fire occur, city officials said.
Rowan County Emergency Services Director Frank Thomason also has been kept up to speed on the situation. Treme credited Randy Welch, the Duke Energy district manager in Salisbury, for helping in the water emergency.
Behmer estimated Thursday afternoon that the city’s reservoir had gone down about 10 feet since the loss of power at the pump station. The city has two raw water reservoirs, which normally contain about a four-day supply of water, but one reservoir is not available because of maintenance work being conducted.
Salisbury-Rowan Utilities supplies water to residential and business customers in Salisbury, Rockwell, Spencer, East Spencer and Granite Quarry, besides having some contractual agreements with businesses outside the city and with the southern Rowan County municipalities.
The high winds that ripped through Rowan County Wednesday caused damage to a Duke Energy transformer that afternoon. Duke Energy responded by sending a new transformer to the pump station site, but the first transformer sent did not work.
A second transformer was installed Thursday afternoon, but the city realized other electrical system repairs at the pump station were needed, setting in motion the back-up plan of using the two diesel pumps.
But the recent rains have caused flooding at the pump station and made access troublesome.
Treme said the Yadkin River was supposed to crest at 7 p.m. Thursday.
“The working conditions are difficult,” Treme said.
Citizens and Salisbury-Rowan Utilities customers with questions or concerns are being asked to contact the utility’s hotline and speak with Services Manager Patrick Kennerly at 704-202-4660.