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Oxford Mayor Has Water Advice for Henderson

Henderson should be replacing underground valves that would let crews isolate broken sections of pipe faster.

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OXFORD, N.C. — The mayor of Oxford took a jab Tuesday at what he said Henderson officials have not done since a water leak last week that spilled 1.5 million gallons and affected residents in several counties.

Oxford Mayor Al Woodlief said Henderson should make major upgrades to its water system to keep it from happening again.

The pipe broke Thursday and caused a lot of headaches for city water customers.

“They hadn't been checking out their equipment,” Woodlief said.

Specifically, Henderson could have looked at replacing some of its cutoff valves, which he said would have enabled city workers to isolate the leaking pipe more rapidly. Oxford was forced to do it years ago, the mayor said.

“We have a lot of pipes that are 90 years old in our downtown area. This could happen to us today, but if it does, we will be able to shut off that particular area and it won't drain all our resources,” Woodlief said.

For their part, Henderson officials maintain there's no cause for city water customers to be alarmed about any future incident.

“Lines break. Things happen,” said Jerry Moss, Henderson city manager.

Replacing the valves would be expensive, Moss said. There are hundreds of valves in the city system, and each would cost thousands of dollars to replace, Moss said.

The leadership in Henderson is changing soon, with Moss in his last week on the job and five city council spots changing hands next month. Woodlief does not see that as a good omen.

“I don't think that the new leadership will address it that quickly,” Woodlief said.

In one change since the pipe break, however, 911 dispatchers will notify all the people who would be needed to fix a broken pipe.