CFPUA Emergency Work Prevents Rupture of Major LCFWSA Raw Water Supply Main
Washout of U.S. 421 at New Hanover County-Pender County line threatened Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority supply line; CFPUA announces additional steps to monitor the main’s stability
Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) wants to inform our customers and the general public that overnight work by our crews this weekend prevented the rupture of a major Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority (LCFWSA) raw water supply main near the New Hanover County-Pender County line.
Every day, the LCFWSA raw water line brings millions of gallons of river water from intakes located above Lock and Dam #1 to CFPUA, Pender County, and Brunswick County drinking treatment plants. The more-than-20-mile-long main happens to be located underground at the New Hanover County-Pender County line, where a washout of U.S. 421 has occurred for the last several days.
Late Friday afternoon, CFPUA was notified that the earth supporting the main was being removed by the flood waters, placing it at immediate risk of failure. CFPUA created an action plan and mobilized its crews to take material from its Southside Wastewater Treatment plant more than 13 miles away to the 421 site to stabilize the line. The work, which took several hours, was completed at approximately 3:30 am Saturday morning.
The effort prevented the main from shifting and causing a major rupture similar to an LCFWSA break that was caused by Hurricane Matthew. In October 2016, Matthew-related flooding caused LCFWSA’s raw water line to fail near Riegelwood. The resulting rupture cost the region millions of gallons of water supply a day, requiring weeks of mandatory water restrictions before the main could be repaired.
“Our dedicated staff, especially our field crews, deserve a tremendous amount of credit and thanks,” said Jim Flechtner, CFPUA executive director. “At the end of a very long couple of weeks, they worked well into the morning to protect the water supply of hundreds of thousands of people.”
Because flooding is still taking place along the LCFWSA raw water line, CFPUA will continue to monitor the line for potential breaks and our staff is prepared to take action if a failure occurs at another location. CFPUA is also requesting a helicopter flyover of the line to be conducted after the flood waters recede later this week so it can visually inspect the above-ground portions of the main.