Update 5:00 p.m.  2/24/11

Chattanooga, TN (WRCB) -- One busted water main, 24 hours of cleanup, and the problem is still flowing in the streets.

The main break left about 20,000 customers without running water, and Rick Thompson of Artech Architecture Design with a big mess.

Thompson said, "It was up to the door and coming through the door seal, into the lobby, down through the corridors and into the offices.

Artech's walls are adjacent to an abandoned building that is said to be flooded with water.

That's what seeping through the floor and soaking Thompson's offices.

He said the worst part, is if it reaches the printing room, he could potentially lose big bucks.

Thompson said, "You're looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and for our business this is the scary part as architects."

The plan to stop that from happing is half complete.

Tennessee American engineers spent the overnight hours working to reroute the pipeline so water so water pressure would return.

The next step is to go underground and find the broken main.

Spokesperson Kim Dalton said, that's the hard part.

"It is a very complicated job and once they get in there it will be complicated and we want to make as safe as possible."

It will require hours of digging and searching for the main.

Since it was a storage line, many of the business on the main line shouldn't notice a big difference in water pressure.

However, there is still the possibility of more headaches along Cowart street.

The work will continue non-stop at this site.

Tennessee American said it's one of the worst main breaks in a decade.

As far as whose responsible, they say right now is not the time to play the blame game.

But they'll launch a full investigation once the main is repaired.

 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - A spokesperson for Tennessee American Water says crews are still working to fix a broken water main in Southside.

Crews worked through the night to find the exact location of the broken main.  Water company officials say water service has been restored, if only at low pressure to the Downtown area.

"We are working to make the work environment safe for our employees and will not start the digging until this happens," said Kim Dalton from Tennessee American Water in a release Thursday.

The 24 inch main broken by a contractor Wednesday left customers in Downtown without water and forced many businesses to close.

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Crews isolate broken water main

Updated 6:25am 2/24/11

An official with Tennessee American Water says the water main leak in downtown Chattanooga has been isolated and the water has stopped flowing.

They do advise that Thursday morning, Cowart Street will be closed between Main Street to 13th Street.  

Businesses should be back to normal and high rises should be able to pump to the top floor once their individuals pumps are turned on.  

Customers may experience discolored water or air in their water line.  This is part of the normal process.

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Tennessee American Water is still working to isolate the leak.

In an update at 10pm, Wednesday, crews report progress has been made and the situation has stabilized.  Low pressure is still being experienced.

Crews will continue working until the leak has been repaired.

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Salvation Army helping residents without water

By Amy Morrow
Eyewitness News Anchor/ Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Crews with Tennessee American Water are still working to repair a water main break in Downtown Chattanooga.

Officials say a contractor laying fiber optic cable for AT&T hit a 24-inch water line Wednesday morning.

It cut water to several downtown businesses, even closed a couple of schools. Crews have been working all day to fix the pipe and restore water.

That mean's the folks living at Jaycee Towers were expected to be in the same situation throughout the night.

They haven't had water in the high rise all day. It's a low-income housing for seniors and some have health challenges that can make a day like this tough.

"I went in to take my bath and I didn't have no water to take a bath," says Juanita Thrower, resident of Jaycee Towers.

The Salvation Army stepped in to offer water and coffee to the residents. 

"We've been told by the water company to be prepared to serve throughout the night so it might not be until morning until we're released," says Kimberly George with the Salvation Army.

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Main break means slow or no water flow for much of downtown

By Gordon Boyd
Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Lunchtime in Downtown Chattanooga is no time to be squeegee-ing out your beer room.

Niko's has had no choice since 10 o'clock Wednesday morning.

"Everyone came to me and said there's a problem with our water volume, it's fluctuating, restaurateur Nick Kyriakidis says.  "I stuck my head out of the door to check the meter and there was a river going down the road."

That would be 13th & Cowart.

"A contractor for AT &T was drilling and they hit one of our mains," says Kim Dalton, External Affairs Manager for Tennessee American Water Company.

A 24-inch main has ruptured. The water company believes that the sub-contractor's directional borer poked a hole in it, despite clear markings on the sidewalk as to which pipes lay where.

"I don't think we actually hit it," says Christopher Kirby, foreman for Klein Enterprises, which is installing pipeline to hold new fiber-optic cable. "Just maybe the vibrations of the rock busted one of the seals or something, on it."

Whether it's a hole, or a section separated: "about 20,000 customers are going to be affected either with low pressure or no water," Dalton says.

Niko's remains open. But the break has taken a bite out of the crowd.

"If you're third floor or above in the city, you probably don't have water," Kyriakidis says. "So people are just going home, or trying to figure out what to do."

Job one; shut down the main, valve-by-valve.

"We're doing the best we can as quickly as possible," Dalton says.

As of 6PM Wednesday, Tennessee-American's crews had not located the break itself.

Until it's found, the costs and timeframe for repairs are unclear.

Niko's issues are more immediate. Water is seeping in through the brick wall on the Cowart side. The wall is separated from the building's foundation. Staffers are plugging the leaks with towels.

But at least this former slaughter-house and meat packing plant was built to handle fluid run-off.

"The sewer lines have been re-routed upwards, and we have a sump pump to get the water out," Kyriakidis says.

Niko's served dinner Wednesday evening. Kyriakidis had bottled water on standby, had the pipe pressure been insufficient.

He's counting on those who broke the main, to pick up *this* check.

"As far as I know, the President of the water company says they (Klein Enterprises) are getting the bill," says Kyroakidis.

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Water main break affects businesses

By Antwan Harris
Eyewitness News Reporter

Chattanooga, TN (WRCB) -- Lance Dorsey of the Chattanoogan Hotel says the lack of water pressure almost sucked the life out of business Wednesday.

A water main break at 13th and Cowart left some of the hotel's guests stuck in the shower without water.

"First we thought it was just a minor problem until we received a couple more calls about the same problem." We went and checked out gages and found we had lost all water coming into the building," says Dorsey.

The same went for several restaurants in the area.

Terminal Brewhouse had to shut its doors to customers as Wednesday's business dried up.

"This is costing a pretty penny, about $1000 an hour in fact," says Barry Matthews, Manager.

Matthews says he noticed the water wasn't working this morning as prep work started.

That when he called Tennessee American Water.

"We were trying to see what was going on we were told a water main was busted and it would be up 4 hours if it would be turned back," says Matthews.

He said the main break was more of a pain for his business.

According to health code standards, a restaurant has to have a pencil stream of running water to stay open.

Terminal didn't have that much.

"If you don't have running water you can't have a glass of water, soda, they can't use the restroom, we have to stop cooking," says Matthews.

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – A spokesperson for Tennessee American Water says crews are still working to isolate the leak on a water main.

The main was broken by a contractor Wednesday afternoon and caused most of Downtown to go without water.

Tennessee American says crews will work throughout the night to repair the damaged main.

The water company says most customers' water service will be restored, but some may experience lower than usual water pressure.

Tennessee American used the damaged main to tout a need for upgrades to infrastructure.  The utility has asked state regulators for permission to raise water rates by over 30% to cover infrastructure costs.

The Tennessee Regulatory Authority will hold two public comment sessions on the proposed 30.5% rate hike Monday, February 28 at the Hamilton County Courthouse.  The first session will be at 9:00 a.m. and the second will be held at 6:30 p.m.

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – A water main break in the Southside has cut water service to Downtown.

According to water company officials the break is at 14th and Cowart and is affecting water service to the Downtown area.

A spokesperson for Tennessee American Water says a contractor for AT&T has ruptured a 24 inch water main. 

Crews are attempting to reroute the water and fix the pipe.

Some businesses within the affected area, like the Chattanooga Times Free Press, have resorted to bringing portable toilets for their several hundred employees.

Other businesses are simply opting to close for the day.

Blue Cross Blue Shield is shuttling their several thousand employees from their headquarters to other offices with water, according to our news partners at the Times Free Press.

The water outage creates a whole new set of challenges for fire crews that would have to rely on backup plans if a fire were to happen Downtown.

"We do have a contingency plan for something like this," says Bruce Garner, spokesman for the Chattanooga Fire Department. "We've assigned a water tanker to be on standby at Station 1 on East Main Street.  We also have hard suction tubes placed at three locations downtown that would allow us to draft from the Tennessee River."

Water from the break is spilling into several streets in the area, including Market Street, Main Street, Cowart Street and Williams Street.