By: Michael Campbell, News Editor
TOWN OF WAVERLY – Residents have been asked by town officials to boil their tap water until further notice as crews work to address a series of leaks and pipe ruptures in the town during the course of the week.
Requests for comment from the town were directed to the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Drinking Water, where Engineering Field Director for the agency’s Southeast Virginia office Daniel Horne explained ongoing road work in the town has resulted in a number of water main breaks of varying size.
According to Horne, town officials reported that the leaks started Tuesday and public works crews were able to keep up with the leaks that were the result of paving work going on in Waverly performed by the Virginia Department of Transportation.
Data from VDOT’s 2017 pavement project records show two paving projects listed as “ongoing,” one along U.S. Route 460 from the intersection of Route 40 to just east of Beaver Dam Road and the other taking place through the heart of Waverly’s downtown corridor, from the intersection of West Main Street down to New Street.
Paving is also listed as “ongoing” from the intersection of New Street down to Lobbs Shop Road and along East Main Street from U.S. Route 460 to Jackson Lane.
As construction continued, Horne said the number of leaks and the severity of those leaks increased, resulting in the town making the decision to issue a boil water advisory sometime Wednesday.
“Most of the repairs, they have been able to put a sleeve or a clamp to seal it up,” Horne reported. “One leak, they did have a valve break or they couldn’t get the valve, so they had to replace it and, in a couple of places, they had to do a bit more, maybe put in a new piece of pipe or something like that to fix the leak.”
The leaks resulted in residents and businesses in the town seeing a significant reduction in pressure or a complete loss of pressure altogether.
“With the pressure fluctuations affecting parts of the town, the town, on their own and without talking to us, issued a boil notice that went out Wednesday,” Horne remarked, adding that Wednesday’s notice was when health officials had first started hearing about the problems.
Horne stressed that there is no evidence that the system is contaminated and that the boil water action is being conducted as a precaution.
“Once they get all the leaks fixed and VDOT has quit causing additional problems for them, then they can do some sampling at various locations throughout the town to show that it is safe to lift that boil notice,” Horne said.
He added that the town’s decision to issue the notice was appropriate and that the town’s contracted water provider, the Sussex Service Authority, does chlorinate their water and has since increased the chlorination feed levels during this period to keep the water safe.
Horne went on to say that the town’s circulation of notice to customers was “appropriate” from what they can see, remarking that the notice “did not go into a lot of detail” in regards to why customers were being asked to boil their water, which “would have been helpful and allayed some fears.”
While no specific time or date has been set for when the notice will be lifted, Horne said construction wrapping up in the town would help Waverly’s public works fully assess the situation in an effort to end the boil advisory.
“When they can say they don’t have any more leaks and they have fixed all the ones they have identified to make the system stable, they will take samples and, if we get good results back, they will lift the notice,” he said.
Health officials say to bring tap water to a full rolling boil, let it boil for one minute, and let it cool before using.
Additionally, tap water can be boiled in the microwave in a microwave-safe container, provided that the water reaches a full rolling boil for one minute. Place a microwave-safe utensil in the container to keep the water from superheating, or heating above the boiling point without forming steam or bubbles.
Click here for more boil water frequently asked questions.