It’s something the researchers say you can’t unsee, but you need to know just how bad it is. Veuer’s Tony Spitz has the details

UPDATE: The Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities reported at 10 p.m. that water has been restored to Northwood Estates, although the boil water advisory is still in effect.

The residents of Orangeburg’s Northwood Estates have had sewer problems for years.

Some residents also had water problems this week after an 8-inch main break forced Orangeburg’s Department of Public Utilities to shut off the water to make repairs.

Crystal Rush White, who is a resident of the neighborhood, said she lost water about 3 p.m. Wednesday.

“We could not use the bathroom, we could not wash, brush our teeth,” White said. She also said residents were not kept informed about the status of the problem.

The water was turned back on by 3 p.m. Thursday. It later went out again.

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DPU spokesman Randy Etters said the department is working to address the issue.

“Our crews had to go back out. The area of the repair was showing water coming up again,” he said. “They will have to dig it back up to find the source.”

There is no timeline for the repair, but it shouldn’t take as long as the original repair, he said.

DPU issued a boil water advisory on Wednesday afternoon for water customers on Perry Drive, Lake Drive, Lake Circle, the 1195 to 1290 block of Oaklane and the 815 to 989 block of Northwood Drive due to the water main break.

In its advisory, the utility did note that the water would have to be shut off to do the repairs.

Under a boil water advisory, impacted residents are asked to boil water for at least a minute before cooking or drinking. The advisory also notes that customers should continue to boil water until notified by the utility.

Etters said the water main that broke had been place since the creation of the neighborhood without any previous issues.

“Our engineers, in reviewing the situation, found that the storm drain manhole was built on top and around the water main,” Etters said. “It is our belief that, over time, this manhole settled, causing the water line to become stressed until it finally ruptured.”

Etters said there were challenges fixing the break.

“The storm drains would not accept the water yesterday due to being partially blocked,” Etters said. “The crew had to figure out how to remove the large amount of water in the street before beginning work.”

Etters said there were several different service lines the utility had to deal with as it made repairs. Electrical, natural gas, sewer, cable and phone lines were all in the vicinity of the repairs.

“Once located, they found the situation to be much more challenging than normal,” Etters said. “A plan had to be engineered to reroute the line around the existing stormwater infrastructure.”

Etters said this required materials and additional equipment.

“Our team always works as quickly and as safely as possible to restore services to our customers,” he said. “We began the process of restoring the water when another connection point failed and had to be repaired.”

Etters said the utility is reviewing the remaining stormwater collection boxes to see if they also have been built on top of water lines.

“I hope that the current residents of the neighborhood recognize the importance we have placed on their services,” Etters said. “Not only are they seeing significantly lower bills for sewer, but they can also enjoy a response time that demonstrates the value we place on them being customers.”

Northwood Estates Homeowners Association President Barbara Williams described the situation as a “travesty.”

“To have a person tell me they were not able to take even a bath and having to use ice cubes – that is outrageous,” Williams said.

Williams said the water main break caused extensive flooding in the neighborhood.

“If I was driving my small car, I probably would have stalled in the water,” she said.

Williams said her main concern is the safety of the drinking water.

Etters said a boil water advisory will be in effect until results of bacteriological tests have been verified to ensure the safety of the water.

Northwood Estates has often had problems with its sewer system, which was once privately owned. DPU took over the neighborhood’s sewer system in October 2022.

Since last October, the utility’s wastewater team has been evaluating the infrastructure, repairing taps and providing needed maintenance to the two pump stations that serve the neighborhood.

“The initial work has been expensive, with nearly $22,000 spent already,” Etters said. “This is a small amount relative to the several million dollars that will be needed to bring the system up to standard.”

“Through the efforts of the DPU, the City of Orangeburg, the county and our legislative delegation, we believe any deficiencies these residents have experienced will be resolved and the DPU standards of service will be on full display,” he said.

DPU has always provided the neighborhood’s electricity, gas and water.

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