Conservation called for while water line is down

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department is calling for stepped-up water conservation as crews try to repair the main water line to south Charlotte.

Water began bubbling up along Providence Road on Friday and spilled into Briar Creek over the weekend. What caused the damage is unknown, utilities spokesman Cam Coley said. But the major undertaking of repairs will take several weeks.

The 54-inch pipe is one of the largest in the city's underground water system that serves all of southern and some eastern parts of Mecklenburg County. The leak is located in about a 100-foot long piece of pipe buried about 20 feet beneath the creek, Coley said.

Crews will first try to fix the pipe from the inside. If that doesn't work, they'll have to excavate and replace part of the pipe, which could mean detours and lane closures, Coley said. Workers are trying to minimize the effect on traffic on busy Providence Road.

Crews have re-routed water from the pipe to other areas so that south Charlotte customers still get service.

But conserving is crucial to minimizing the chance of losing water pressure while repairs are being made.

A drought-advisory group for the Catawba River basin, which in early April recommended utilities resume limited lawn irrigation, will review conditions again on June 25.

The roots of this drought trace to May 2007, the first string of dry months that lasted until December. Conditions improved through the winter, but turned dry again last month, which is why conservation remains important, officials said.

“We won't run out of water," Coley said. “But areas could see lower-than-usual pressure, and we're just trying to keep it so the repair isn't that noticeable.”

Progress on the repairs will be posted on www.cmutilities.com.