Water issues in Marion County continue, impacting local school

Published: Aug. 31, 2022 at 1:00 AM EDT
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BUENA VISTA, Ga. (WTVM) - About 80 people in Marion County, just 30 miles east of Columbus, still have water issues after a pipe leak in June. It recently impacted a local elementary school, where students were sent home early.

Today, officials talked about plans to move forward using COVID-relief funds.

When News Leader 9 first reported this issue in June, Marion County Manager Will Johnson said they had received a $1,000,000 grant to determine problem areas. Now, the county will use the funds to conduct research and upgrades.

Things have been different at L.K. Moss Elementary in Marion County for the past two days. The school was placed under a boil water advisory after a pipe leak Friday afternoon.

The school’s principal, Loranda Holmes, says they noticed they didn’t have water when their toilets wouldn’t flush.

“And because we could not use the bathroom at the time, we knew that we had to get our kids home,” said Holmes.

As a result, about 600 students were sent home after lunch Friday afternoon. The following morning, the staff bought gallon jugs and packs of bottled water.

“Over the weekend, we distributed all that water to all our classrooms. So we made sure that the students -- the teachers had water for the students,” said Holmes.

Cafeteria staff also switched to serving pre-packaged meals.

“And we’ve just not been cooking anything and we’ve been boiling water, using throwaway pans and just trying not to use the water -- using bottled water when we need something with water in it,” said Lunchroom manager Becky Weaver.

Bottled water was also placed in bathrooms along with hand soap and hand sanitizer until the boil water advisory was lifted. While the pipe leak was fixed, this issue still persists throughout Northern Marion County.

“There is still a boil water notice that affects about 80 people...80 residences, I’m sorry, {in} the highest elevations of the county in the northern part, primarily the Northeast,” said Marion County Manager William Johnson.

But Johnson says they have received a million-dollar grant to fix the problem, and they’ll now use the money for a hydrology study.

“The purpose of the hydrology study is to determine where we have pressure problems. Obviously, we already know that in the highest elevations of the county, but there are probably others that are caused by smaller pipes going into larger pipes,” said Johnson.

He says the research will last 14 to 16 weeks. In the meantime, the company hired will be responsible for installing meters, upgrading generators and wells.

The boil water advisory for the elementary school was lifted around 10:30 Tuesday morning. However, officials had to ensure all filters were cleaned and let the water run for a little while. But, we’re told things should be back to normal by Wednesday morning at least for the elementary school.