WEDOWEE — Some people in east Alabama are quickly running out of water, causing panic as utility companies work to respond.
In Randolph County, the R. L. Harris Reservoir, an Alabama Power lake, serves as a source of water for Wedowee Utilities. The water level is currently at a critical low and Alabama Power has not allowed more water to flow. The elevation above sea level is 793 feet, but the level is currently at 784.18 feet. Wedowee Mayor Tim Coe, who also serves as the chairman of Wedowee Utilities, said this means the utility is unable to pump water into the water treatment plant.
“It’s major,” Coe said. “There is a significant amount of people that are out of water right now.”
Coe said he is in talks with Alabama Power about raising the water level, adding they have agreed to do so, but Coe isn’t sure if that will make a difference within hours or days.
Councilman Jerry Huddleston said people in the town of Wedowee deserve to know.
“As important as water is, we’re not trying to point blame, we just want to know what happened,” said Huddleston. “And is it going to be an hour or do we need to prepare for three days without water? We just want an answer so that people know what to prepare for.”
Coe added typically the utility can purchase water from Randolph County, but the Randolph County Water Authority discovered a major leak Monday morning, adding to problems in the county. The Authority is asking customers to conserve water. In a recording, they said they are working to resolve the issue.
“We’ve had unprecedented cold for the last few days and the lake water is low,” Coe explained. “There are also a lot of lake houses with leaks that people don’t know about because they aren’t there. People leave their water running to prevent their pipes from busting and now that is water being used that we didn’t account for.”
The water shortage had people flocking to local grocery stores to purchase water on Monday. WM Grocery told 1819 News they only had small drinking bottles left, but they are expecting a truckload of water to be brought in Tuesday. Perryland Grocery said they are seeing an increase in water purchases and are running low on supply.
Coe said residents should check their homes and businesses for water leaks. At this time, there is not a boil advisory in place but Coe said if that comes into play, Wedowee Utilities will use every medium necessary to alert customers. He said some households that lost water services have already seen improvements, so he hopes that will soon be the case for all customers.
There are other areas experiencing water issues due to the recent freezing temperatures. Harris County, Georgia, another source of water for emergencies in Wedowee, is only allowing water to be used by customers because of lower levels.
In St. Clair County, the Northwest St. Clair Water System told customers they are also working on an issue with Alabama Power that is impacting water pressure in some areas.
“We have been having power problems at the pump station since Friday,” the water system posted.
UPDATE 6:00 p.m.:
Alabama Power issued a statement to 1819 News, saying, “The City of Wedowee Water intake elevation is 779. Harris elevation is currently at 784.21 They have told us that they have a silt issue and have trouble pumping when the level drops below 785. We will be back to full winter pool by December 31st. So it will be gradually rising to get there.”
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