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OWASA wants to 'reestablish trust' after Orange County water emergency

Posted February 9

Orange Water and Sewer Authority gave customers an opportunity to discuss last week's water emergency during a public meeting Thursday night.

Last Friday, OWASA warned customers not to use their water because of concerns it could be contaminated.

"We want to reestablish your trust and confidence in our leadership, in our employees, our infrastructure and our business practices," said OWASA board chair John A. Young.

Officials found high fluoride levels at one of their plants, so they had to shut it down. The next day, there was a 12-inch water main break.

The Health Department shut down restaurants and hotels on Friday night and urged OWASA customers to use bottled water for about 36 hours.

On Saturday afternoon, OWASA deemed its water safe and said operations are back to normal.

OWASA said they are still trying to determine how the emergency happened. They have hired outside engineering consultants to investigate what cause the fluoride overfeed and water main break. The expect to receive the results on Friday.

Thursday night, customers got the opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns. Some spoke about the water main break's impact on their lives, including some University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students who were flooded out of their apartment.

"We are having ot start over in terms of moving into a new apartment and are having to pay for all moving expenses out of our own pocket," the students said.

At least one person had some kind words for the board and the utility as a whole, saying "thank you for getting it back as quick as you did. I really see how serious it was."


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