All of Hillsboro’s water customers will be without water for at least the next three days following a break in the distribution system.
The town’s $3.2 million water project hit a snag late Tuesday afternoon when sections of the six-decade-old water main broke and left the town’s 28 active water customers without running water.
According to Mayor Roger Vance and Vice Mayor Amy Marasco, those water users had planned to be without service and had stocked up on bottled water. Marasco said the town previously advised the users their water would be temporarily shut off as work on the water main commenced. She said town leaders delivered six gallons of bottled water to those customers and encouraged them to fill their bathtubs in preparation of the work last week.
However, the expectation at that time was that water flow would be off for hours, not days, as the distribution system was to be connected to a newly constructed water main coming from the town well.
Vance said the water main, which has been in use since the 1960s, had been patched repeatedly throughout the years and was in a fragile condition at the time of the break. Marasco said earthwork surrounding the main was enough to break it in certain sections.
Vance said the town and its water project contractor, Shirley Contracting, are working to resolve the problem by Saturday.
“That’s sort of our expectation,” he said. “We feel like we’ve got a good solution for the immediate term and going forward.”
Marasco said the work is being done in full cooperation with the Virginia Department of Health to finally resolve a boil water notice, which town residents have lived under for the past 25 years.
Marasco noted that because of the boil water notice, many water customers were also well prepared for a main break because they’ve been purchasing bottled water for years, as an alternative to drinking water from the town lines.
As crews work to fix the problem, town leaders today were distributing 6-12 gallons of additional bottled water to residents and have instructed water customers to shut electricity off to their water heaters.
Town leaders are also filling up buckets and bottles of non-potable water at the Old Stone School for water customers to bring home for everyday uses, such as toilet water. Marasco said the town is additionally working to purchase pizza for the stricken water users from Andy’s Pizza & Subs so that they don’t have to do dishes.
“We’re trying to do the human things, too,” she said.
Water users are also getting a bit of financial relief. In response to the inconvenience the water project was expected to cause at times, the town resolved to not collect on users’ March water bills. In response to the coronavirus crisis, the town resolved to not charge late fees or interest on future water bill non-payments until the town’s state of local emergency is lifted.
Moving past this week’s main break, Vance and Marasco said work on the water system, which is being done alongside the town’s $14.33 million Rt. 9 traffic calming project, is generally going well, is nearing completion and should wrap up some time in 2020.
“I think we’ve got it under control,” Vance said.