By Jennifer Clampet
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE Copperas Cove on Thursday issued a boil-water alert for the first time in city history after repairs were being made to a punctured main water line.
The notice was issued early Thursday and is expected to be lifted sometime this morning. However, Water/Wastewater Director Bob McKinnon said a second boil-water notice likely will be issued Saturday morning and lifted sometime Sunday morning.
The boil order affecting some Cove residents and businesses began Wednesday afternoon when water was shut off to the citys central pressure plane.
McKinnon said a sign contractor working at a business on South Main Street near U.S. Highway 190 failed to abide by state law requiring him to inquire about the exact location of buried utility lines owned by the city or other entities. McKinnon said the man began drilling a hole for a sign pole and punctured a 16-inch main waterline that carries water to the Hogg Mountain and Taylor areas.
Water department employees began work on the line Wednesday afternoon and finished around 5:30 a.m. Thursday. The city then issued its boil-water notice.
We clamped it, but its not snug enough, McKinnon said of the waterline. Theres still a small leak.
McKinnon said the city will be employing a contractor to repair the line completely. The department plans to shut off water to the central pressure plane again after 9 tonight, allowing the company to make the necessary repairs.
McKinnon said that whenever waterlines lose pressure for a prolonged amount of time, the department is required by the Texas Commission on Environmen-tal Quality to issue a boil notice and have the water tested for coliforms and other contaminants. McKinnon said he did not believe the water was contaminated.
Deputy Superintendent Rose Cameron, with the Copperas Cove Independent School District, said Thursday that the district would continue having school.
Everything is as normal, Cameron said, adding that bottled water had been shipped into the schools to ensure children had clean drinking water.
Water department employees continued to work throughout the day Thursday as they responded to two waterline break calls.
McKinnon said when the water was turned back on, the repressurizing of the citys waterlines caused lines to vibrate and break.
One break near the corner of North Main Street and Avenue C caused water to shoot from the street and violently pelt the rooftop of a nearby home.
Looking at the homes rooftop, McKinnon said if damage was done to the home, the owner would need to file a claim with the city.
When asked who would be responsible for the cost of the waterline repairs, McKinnon replied, Not the city.
McKinnon said he was informed by City Manager Steven Alexander to keep a record of all the resources used by the water department in correcting the problem. McKinnon said the list will include equipment and vehicle use, fuel and employee time including overtime for employees who worked past 5 p.m.
Its not going to be cheap, McKinnon said.
McKinnon said that if the sign contractor had only used the toll-free number in Texas, 1-800-Dig-TESS, Wednesdays situation never would have occured. DIG-TESS is a damage prevention service provided by the Texas Excavation Safety System to help excavators in Texas notify the owners of buried facilities before digging. The service is free.
Missy Hawbecker and Amy Haire, both wives of water department employees, brought breakfast Thursday morning for the men working at the Avenue C break. The two also supplied dinner for the employees Wednesday night.
I havent seen my husband since Wednesday morning, Hawbecker said. But they just cant stop what theyre doing.
Past and present city officials who woke up Thursday morning to the boil alert were all trying to remember if Cove had ever actually issued a boil notice before. McKinnon said that in Coves entire water department history, the city had never been issued a notice. The lines that broke under vibration pressure were almost 50 years old, said Coves Water Superintendent Daniel Hawbecker.
It ruined a perfectly good record, McKinnon said.
Contact Jennifer Clampet at email@example.com