An antiquated water pipe system wreaked havoc on the citizens of Helena-West Helena last week. A 12" water main at Yazoo St. just south of Arkansas St. split and developed a major leak that affected hundreds of local citizens.
A precautionary boil order was issued on the morning of January 4 to certain sections of "Old Helena" to protect against contamination. The order also applied to anyone within Helena -West Helena who lost water pressure.
Later that day Mayor Jay Hollowell announced that efforts to repair the leak had been unsuccessful. The next step was to shut off all water to Helena for a 12 - 24 hour period to slow down the flow enough to do the necessary repairs.
Clamps were placed on the pipe to temporarily repair the leak. Unfortunately, the pipe split again north of the original leak.
At noon on January 5 an emergency meeting was held at City Hall with Mayor Hollowell and representatives of the H-WH Water Department, the H-WH Fire Department, the Office of Emergency Management, and local engineer Ken Weiland to come up with a plan to resolve the problem. Mayor Hollowell authorized the purchase of two valves that experts thought would isolate the problem so the affected pipe could be replaced.
Over the weekend both valves were installed and water tanks continued to fill up. At that point everyone in the affected area should have water service restored, except the industrial park.
The needed repairs/replacement of the faulty pipe should take place within the next week. There are numerous other small leaks that city crews are dealing with due to the cold weather.
The mayor emphasized the importance of abiding by the precautionary boil order until the Department of Health has a chance to inspect the water for contamination.