GALLIPOLIS — The leak has been found.
Gallipolis City Manager Randy Finney said in a press release shortly before 5 p.m. that work crews have finally located a water leak that plunged the city into a severe water crisis the past week.
“I finally have some good news for you. We have water going to the reservoir and filling the tank,” he said in a press release.
Finney said the leak was found in an abandoned 12-inch line under the road at the bridge at Chickamauga Creek, the general area where work crews first began their search June 2 when city officials first suspected a leak.
“And as soon as we shut it off, the system started building pressure,” he said in the release.
Finney said that while finding the elusive leak is welcome news, the city is still under a boil advisory.
“We still want to use caution and allow the reservoir to fill,” he said. “Please allow a few days for this to happen and continue to conserve water. Also, the health department had already began the process of allowing some of the food establishments to open … so this will continue over the next several days. We believe we have all customers on.”
Finney said water samples will be taken soon, but the start of the 24-hour test period has yet to be determined.
For people who do not yet have water, Finney said those people should immediately call 441-6006.
As a result, the Gallia County Health Department has begun the process of sending officials to perform inspections on the city’s food establishments that offer drive-through and carry-out services.
According to the news release issued by the health department, carry out/drive-through pizza establishments and bars should begin preparing immediately for reopening. Health department officials said carry out/drive through pizza restaurants and bars are considered “low risk facilities.”
But before they can reopen to the public, they must pass inspection by licensed health department sanitarians, who began the process Monday evening.
The health department release said fast-food restaurants with drive-through capabilities only should prepare Tuesday for the re-opening process — also subject to a positive inspection.
The quest to find the elusive water leak began June 2 and stretched for more than a week. Shortly thereafter, the city issued a boil water advisory to all of its 3,000 water customers, but as the days stretched into one week, crews had been unable to pinpoint the leak’s exact location. That caused a unprecedented water emergency for a city that was founded in the late 1790s as restaurants were being forced to close and residents were sent scrambling to find water with which to cook, clean, bathe and drink.
Restaurants and other food establishments that use Gallipolis city water closed last Thursday on orders of Gallia County Health Commissioner Dr. Gerald Vallee.
Over the weekend, water leak detection crews from out of the area were summoned to help locate the exact location of the leak. During the crisis, many Gallipolis residents flocked to nearby Rio Grande and across the river to Point Pleasant, W.Va., for water and other needs.
Water began to flow intermittently in local homes and businesses during the weekend as work crews tested areas of the water system in hopes of finding the leak.
The American Red Cross and Gallia County Health Department, with assistance from local high school and 4-H club volunteers, have been staffing the water distribution at the public use area of the Gallipolis City Park. The water, which is contained in a 5-gallon plastic-bladder-type bag, will be handed out from 3-7 p.m. until further notice. The water is for drinking use only.
The Gallipolis Developmental Center has offered the use of its bathroom and shower facilities from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the water crisis. They are located at 2500 Ohio Ave. in Gallipolis. People are asked to supply their own personal care items to use the facilities. People can also fill their own containers with tap water at the GDC. There will be signs posted around campus to direct residents where to go.
The University of Rio Grande’s Lyne Center offered the use of its shower facilities.
Portable restrooms are also available at City Park, Gallia County Courthouse and the Gallia County Health Department. Hand sanitizer stations, Finney said, are available at the aforementioned portable restroom facilities.