DeKalb CEO promises full investigation into massive water main break

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DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond
DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond


DeKalb County officials will initiate a full-scale investigation into the cause of today’s (March 7) massive water main break, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond said this afternoon. The break forced the shutdown of schools, government offices and businesses and flooded streets.

“We will determine whether the break was the result of a systematic failure, improper maintenance, wear and tear or physical tampering,” Thurmond said. “I am committed to making sure our infrastructure is protected and maintained in a manner that will ensure quality service to the citizens of DeKalb County.”

Thurmond said he was alerted of the water main break around 5:30 a.m. today. He said emergency protocol was immediately implemented. The 48-inch transmission water main break occurred at 5718 Buford Highway, N.E., between Longmire and McElroy Roads in Doraville.

DeKalb County Watershed Management has mobilized a contractor and delivered equipment to the site. County crews are assessing the damage and removing debris so repair work can begin.

The cleanup of Buford Highway is 85 percent complete and portions of the road are estimated to reopen shortly. Georgia Department of Transportation crews are onsite evaluating the roadway.

According to officials, all of DeKalb County, including the city of Stonecrest, is on a 36-hour boil water advisory, said Stonecrest spokesman Adrion Bell.

“Watershed officials said they are required to do three rounds of water tests. The water sampling taken for testing requires 24 hours to incubate; therefore, the boil water advisory will be in place until Friday, provided the test don’t reveal a problem,” Bell said in a release.

DeKalb officials said all water customers are advised to “boil” all water for at least one minute after a full boil prior to use for drinking, cooking, or preparing baby food. Customers should continue to boil their water until they are notified that the water system has been restored to full operation.

Officials have worked as quickly as possible to address the water main break.

Eight tankers were brought into the county to supply water for fire protection and supply chillers at hospitals.

The disruptions from the water main break have been widespread. There was no water at the DeKalb Police Department headquarters in Tucker earlier today. At some businesses, water pressure was so low that toilets could not be flushed and businesses were forced to close. Several governmental agencies were shut down as well as public schools, colleges, restaurants and area shopping centers including Northlake Mall and Perimeter Mall. Non-emergency surgeries at Emory Healthcare also were cancelled.

DeKalb Animal Services put out an urgent plea for water needed to care for animals in their facility and the community responded overwhelmingly with gallons of water.

“We are so incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support from our amazing community this morning! Our water has come back on, but we are still under a boil water advisory,” shelter officials said in a Facebook post around 1:30 p.m. “The donations we have received will ensure that our animal’s bowls are kept full of clean water. Thanks to all of your support, we are no longer in need of water donations. Thank you to everyone who donated water for our animals today, we are so grateful to have supporters like you!”

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