The problems that have caused service disruptions to the city of Charleston's water system since Feb. 17 are expected "to be resolved" by noon Tuesday, Feb. 23, according to the system's contract operator.
K.T. Newman, operator of the Charleston Water Department, said late Monday morning that the system had two water wells functioning at full capacity and was in the process of adding a third well to the mix.
"Under normal conditions, the pumping capacity of the city is perfect for the demand, but as is the case in a lot of towns across the state right now, we're having a difficult time repressurizing the system as a result of tremendous demand from the frigid temperatures," Newman noted.
In addition to routine water use, Newman said, "People's individual plumbing is bursting, and everybody was letting their water drip." He said it is a "gradual, slow process" to rebuild systemwide water pressure while also battling a loss of pressure due to ongoing leaks.
He said city workers are continuing to identify and address water leaks as they are able, but noted that an additional increase in water pressure is necessary to turn the tide.
"We've got a third well that has traditionally been offline that we're trying to put back online to increase the flow to the system. If we're successful in doing that, which we should very well be here shortly, then that will just decrease the amount of time it takes for everything to pressure back up," he noted.
"My best guess would be that [water pressure] should build back up today — may be tonight — but I would expect by this time tomorrow for the issue to be resolved," Newman said at about 11:25 a.m. Monday.
Even when service is restored, customers should boil tap water intended for consumption for at least 1 minute to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present. The city's water system is under a self-imposed, precautionary boil-water alert until the water is cleared by the Mississippi State Department of Health.
In addition to some 750 Charleston water customers, the city's water system also supplies water to 82 metered residential and industrial customers of East Charleston Water Association.