2017 Water Emergency Timeline


On Thursday afternoon, our Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment Plant was shut down due to an overfeed of fluoride into a water tank.

To contain the fluoride overfeed within the plant, we stopped pumping water from our plant . None of the water with higher than normal fluoride reached the pipes which carry water to customers.

OWASA began receiving drinking water from the City of Durham through water system connections and asked all customers to use water wisely.  


On Friday morning, a major water line break occurred on Foxcroft Drive in northeast Chapel Hill.  The pipe break led to a rapid and large loss of water, and water pressure fell in some areas to very low levels. Water in our storage tanks dropped to critically low levels. We  asked customers to limit use of OWASA water to essential purposes.

To protect public health and conserve water, at 11:20 AM OWASA told customers not to use OWASA water until further notice. At 2:19 PM, the Orange County Health Department  issued Do Not Drink and Do Not Use directives for OWASA water.

The water line break was isolated and the loss of water was stopped around noon on Friday. A connection with Chatham County was opened Friday afternoon, bringing in a couple hundred more thousand gallons of water a day. 

Work continued overnight to repair the water line and restore the Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment Plant.


On Saturday afternoon, February 4th, the water line was repaired. Shortly before 2 PM, we completed tests showing our water was safe to drink.

The Health Department lifted the Do Not Drink/Do Not Use directives. Customers were asked to limit use of OWASA water to essential purposes.

While we worked to restart the Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment Plant and raise  water storage levels, we asked customers to limit water use to essential purposes. We continued to receive water from the City of Durham and Chatham County.

On Saturday evening, the Jones Ferry Road Water Treatment resumed operation, and we stopped receiving water from Durham and Chatham County.


As of  Sunday morning, all OWASA operations are normal, water storage tanks are full and normal water use is allowed.

OWASA is investigating the fluoride overfeed and water line break and has hired outside consultant for the investigation.


Customers are invited to receive information and to comment and ask questions about the water emergency in the OWASA Board of Directors' meeting on Thursday, February 9th at 6 PM in the Chapel Hill Town Hall, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.