McComb residents and businesses slowly regained access to water as city tanks filled Friday, although the city will remain under a boil-water notice for the foreseeable future.
Mayor Quordiniah Lockley said Friday that water tanks should have reached full capacity, but low pressure is still an issue as residents report leaks throughout the city after thawing pipes finally burst.
“(The) system is near capacity. Everyone should have water,” he said. “However, we are getting more and more calls about breaks in the lines to houses, and the more we get, the greater the toll will be on the system reaching full capacity.”
Lockley also noted that he has gotten several calls from residents who are still without water, and that may spell trouble for them. He noted that the only reason a home or business would be without water now is if they have a leak in their own pipes.
“I encourage all businesses and residents to check their lines to make sure there is not a break in their line or if it is still frozen,” he said. “If your neighbor has water and you don’t have water, it isn’t the city’s fault, and we can’t do anything about the break once it passes the property line.”
The high demand for water, which had been inaccessible for days, also affected the city’s water pressure, Lockley said, adding that the volume of water being slowed the process of refilling the city’s four elevated 250,000-gallon tanks, two 300,000- to 500,000-gallon ground tanks and another 1 million-gallon tank, which all have to be full before water pressure can return to full capacity.
“Pressure is building back up and the tanks are refilling,” Lockley said. “The time it will take to get to capacity depends on the usage. We are trying to fill it up while everyone is using it.”
Once the city is at capacity, Lockley said public works crews could take water samples for testing, but even that looked to be an issue that would delay the lifting of a boil-water notice.
The city needs two consecutive days’ worth of clean water samples before a boil-water notice can be lifted, and with the Mississippi State Department of health lab shut down for the foreseeable future as Jackson repairs its own water problems, McComb officials were working to find a private lab on Friday to quickly perform the tests.
“We have been informed that the State Health Department will be closed next week. We are in the process of contacting a private lab to test our water,” Lockley said in a Facebook post on his personal page Friday.
He noted that most of the state’s municipalities are facing the same issue after the freeze knocked out lines and pressure, and that could also lead to a longer wait for the go-ahead to life the boil notice as labs examine an influx of samples.
When asked why the city had not made posts about the situation on its website or Facebook page, Lockley said the city board voted two months ago to take his access from the city’s website and social media.