As the hurricane approaches, don’t be without water

Tuesday, September 11, 2018 4:46:00 PM

Strong winds and heavy rain are anticipated to reach Carrboro and Chapel Hill as Hurricane Florence makes its way closer to North Carolina this week. Depending on the severity of the hurricane, it is possible that water and wastewater services may be disrupted. 

Don’t be without water. OWASA urges community members to have a hurricane preparedness plan in place. This includes storing one gallon of water per person per day, for 3 to 7 days, with emergency preparedness kits. Consider storing more water for children, nursing mothers, sick people, and pets. Options for emergency water supplies include purchasing bottled water, or, preparing your own containers of water at home. If the latter, thoroughly clean the containers – water that is not commercially bottled should be replaced every six months. 

Tap water remains safe to drink even when the power is out. However, if OWASA’s infrastructure is damaged, for example, if an uprooted tree hits a water pipe, it may affect our ability to ensure an adequate supply of drinking water. OWASA is preparing to mitigate impacts; for example, we are storing extra fuel for generators in case of a power outage, topping up supplies at treatment plants, and reviewing safety and storm recovery procedures with staff. In addition, recreation at Cane Creek Reservoir and University Lake will be closed this weekend.

In case water or wastewater service is significantly affected, OWASA will work in emergency operations mode. Based on the current trajectory of Hurricane Florence, OWASA might begin operating in emergency operations mode starting on Thursday or Friday morning. We will monitor events and determine if and when to transition to emergency operations. During emergency mode, regular customer services such as bill payments and system hook-ups will be suspended until we return to normal operations. During this mode, no customers will have their water service turned off due to non-payment of an outstanding bill.

If water or wastewater systems are severely impacted, the community could be affected by water service disruptions in homes or businesses, or wastewater (sewer) overflows from manholes in the street. In case of a water service disruption, OWASA will work to restore service promptly but staff and community safety is our top priority. Heavy flooding, downed trees, road closures or other barriers may prevent us from being able to access some areas that we serve. As soon as it’s safe to do so, we will restore water service and notify customers as quickly as possible. If you see a broken water main or overflowing manhole in the street, avoid the area and report the emergency by calling 911.

Avoid flood waters. OWASA does not operate the stormwater system for the Carrboro and Chapel Hill community. However, heavy rain and flooding may cause stormwater to inadvertently enter the wastewater collection and treatment system, which can result in overflows of untreated wastewater. Always avoid contact with flood waters.

View OWASA’s Frequently Asked Questions for additional information on water and wastewater emergency preparation. And stay informed: OWASA will share updates regularly about our operations status and any service interruptions here on our website and on Twitter @OWASA1. Community members are also encouraged to sign up for Orange County’s emergency alerts. We urge everyone to be prepared and be safe.

For more information:

Linda Low, Communications & Community Relations Officer, 919-537-4267, llow@owasa.org