Water woes persist in Copperhill, Tenn., McCaysville, Ga.

Water woes persist in Copperhill, Tenn., McCaysville, Ga.

January 16th, 2018 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

The Toccoa River, which flows out of Georgia into the Ocoee River, is the source of drinking water for McCaysville Water System customers.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Under a boil water notice?

Fill a pot with water and heat until it reaches a rolling boil. Allow the water to boil up to three minutes before turning off the heat source. Allow the water to cool before putting it in a storage container.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Though there has been no shortage of rain, drinkable water has been in short supply in Copperhill, Tenn., and McCaysville, Ga., where conservation and boil notices have been in place, off and on, for weeks.

The water system just over the state line in McCaysville, the supplier of Copperhill's water, underwent work on its filtration system in late December, impacting service to all water utility customers who get their water from the McCaysville Water Utility. Since then recent cold weather caused system and residential lines to burst and other leaks to worsen, creating pressure problems.

A notice was posted on Fannin County, Ga.'s Emergency Management Agency website Friday telling McCaysville Water System customers to boil their water before using it.

The Toccoa River, which flows out of Georgia into the Ocoee River, is the source of drinking water for McCaysville Water System customers.

The Toccoa River, which flows out of Georgia...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

"Due to loss of pressure in the water system and low tank levels, [customers] of the McCaysville Water System are under a boil advisory until further notice. In order to protect the public from a potential health hazard, all citizens are advised to 'boil' all water prior to use for drinking, cooking or preparing baby food."

The advisory is in effect "until further notice," but McCaysville Mayor Thomas Seabolt said the work on the filtration system "is in the final stages," and the boil notice could be lifted by Wednesday if samples test as good and work on some leaks goes as planned.

"We hope to take some samples today to go up to the sample lab. Hopefully if they pass, which they should, we'll be off of this boil notice by Wednesday," Seabolt said on Monday. "It all depends on the sample."

The system has about 3,200 customers on it, one of those customers being several hundred homes on the meter that goes to Copperhill.

"They've been working 10 to 12 hours a day, six days a week," Seabolt said of repair crews. "We've got a good crew here."

The mayor said the water was out at his house for a couple of days last week when a water main broke twice.

"I keep bottled water at my house," Seabolt said, noting bottled water is a cheap, readily available backup plan.

In Copperhill, bottled water and tanker-truck water have been hauled in for residents to use, according to posts of the town's Facebook page. Copperhill officials said an emergency connection to Copper Basin utilities should be finished this week, as long as the weather cooperates. A more permanent connection is under way, as well, but that project won't be complete for some time.

The two towns are no strangers to water supply problems. Seabolt said the driest part of summer and the wettest part of winter are the toughest times for the water system.

Copperhill, population about 350, and McCaysville, population a little more than 1,000, lie within the Ocoee River watershed on the mountainous eastern fringes of Tennessee's Cherokee National Forest and Georgia's Chattahoochee National Forest. Water supplies there are drawn from the Toccoa River, which eventually flows into the Ocoee River.

Now, officials are dubiously eyeing the thermometer for when temperatures take another deep dip Tuesday and Wednesday.

Seabolt said he's seen forecasts for temperatures in the North Georgia mountains to drop as low as 5 degrees.

The mayor said water customers should take cold weather precautions when the next cold blast hits late Tuesday — store up some water and, if possible, leave a tap dripping to keep the pipes from freezing, he added.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.