2010-01-07 / Front Page

Water shortage in Grove Hill and Thomasville

Adjoining rural areas also affected
By Jim Cox Editor & Publisher


          Grove Hill and Thomasville’s water systems have dropped to critically low levels during the current cold spell.

Friday, Thomasville Mayor Sheldon Day said water had been cut off to approximately 65 percent of customers in an effort to conserve water and to help the system recover. Grove Hill’s problem was almost as severe and Mayor Jerry Newton said water in the county seat might also have to be similarly curtailed.

Also affected are rural systems that are serviced by or through the Grove Hill and Thomasville systems, including Mid-Central, which serves the Fulton area and other communities between Grove Hill and Thomasville.

A number of issues compounded to deplete water levels in Thomasville where water is purchased from Pine Hill and comes from the Alabama River. Thomasville’s capacity was already reduced in order to comply with an ADEM regulation when the cold weather hit and problems with the Pine Hill system, plus other water customers pulling water from that system, helped to rapidly deplete reserves.

Water usage is as high or higher than production capabilities so the system isn’t able to recover, Day explained. He estimated that it might take two weeks for the system to fully recover to safe levels.  

Burst pipes as well as homeowners leaving faucets running to avoid freezing has compounded the problem in Grove Hill and Thomasville.

Jackson has not been so adversely affected. The water system there that pulls water from the Tombigbee River is strong and no shortages have been experienced.

Thursday, Grove Hill connected a fire truck between two rural systems south of town in an effort to transfer water from Jackson to Grove Hill. However, the town’s tanks never “caught up” and it was determined Friday that a check valve between systems was prohibiting the water from ever reaching Grove Hill. It was being looped and sent back to Jackson!

That problem was being corrected Friday afternoon.

Continued cold temperatures have local officials worried that the problems may not be soon corrected. Friday’s temperatures hardly reach freezing and a low of 13 is predicted for Saturday morning. Morning temperatures are expected to remain in the teens or 20s through at least early next week. However, daytime temperatures should rise into the 50s by the first of the week and hopefully help the situation.

This has been an unusual long and sustained cold spell for south Alabama.  Rarely do temperatures fall so low and remain for such a long period of time.

Grove Hill and Thomasville municipal officials along with the Clarke County Commission and the EMA office are purchasing bottled water to have on hand if it is needed. Water storage tanks have also been positioned at the Grove Hill and Thomasville hospitals.

Thomasville has been pursuing the creation of its own water system and Mayor Day said Friday the current crisis only underscores the need for it. Grove Hill has had a problem with a water well and also realizes the importance of having an adequate and ample water supply.

Some have talked about the 18-inch water line that was promoted a few years back from Jackson up Highway 43 to Thomasville when Thomasville first started looking at its own system. That never materialized but several said this week if it was in place now a lot of the current problems might have been avoided.


Here are some tips to help conserve water:

1.       Cut back on washing of laundry for the next few days.

2.       Cut the number of times you flush your toilet.

3.       Use disposable dishes or eat out to conserve water from washing of dishes. (Restaurants have much larger capacity dishwashers that actually use less water that many home dishwashers)

4.       Collect rainwater from your roof to water plants and flush your toilet.

5.       Report any water leaks as soon as possible.

6.       Be very careful with heaters, fireplaces and other activities with potential to cause fires. One major house fire may require the use of over 30,000 gallons of water.

7.       If your water is off for an extended period of time it will be a good idea to cut your hot water heater off at your electrical panel to prevent possible damage.

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