Freezing temps, busted pipes reduce town’s water supply

Highlands water supply took a dip after freezing temperatures over the Christmas holiday burst pipes throughout the area.

Pictured below is a frozen Bridal Veil Falls that breaks free on Christmas Day in the afternoon sun. Pictured at the top of the article is a semi-frozen Dry Falls taken from underneath the falls on Christmas Day.

The reduction to the town’s reservoir was enough for Highlands Mayor Pat Taylor to post an emergency message on Dec. 27 asking the community to check on unoccupied homes and report signs of leakage to Town Hall so crews could turn off the meters at the street level, and it worked.

“Checked with the water plant this morning,” said Taylor the following day. “The water tanks are now making progress on filling back up. We are still getting calls at Town Hall about burst water pipes. Our crews continue to go to homes and cut off the water at the meter when a problem is reported.”

Highlands Public Works Director Lamar Nix said they received more than 100 calls reporting burst pipes.

“A lot of it occurred during the holidays, dispatch called them, sanitation crews, electrical crews, police, neighbors, and some they just found,” said Nix.

Burst pipes meant running water was literally draining the town’s three water tanks.

A semi-frozen Dry Falls on Christmas Day.

Freezing pipes not only threatened, but also caused problems for businesses and organizations throughout the area, including Highlands Cashiers Hospital and Old Edwards Inn & Spa.

“Highlands-Cashiers Hospital did experience some water pipe breaks from the recent weather event and while we did have damage, patient care was not affected and no patients have been moved because of this water issue,” said HCH CEO Tom Neal. “We had some appointments that were rescheduled for next week. HCH is open and ready to care for our community!”

OEI President Richard Delaney said burst pipes and power outages did cause some issues.

“We did have major issues with Duke Power’s brown outs causing our heating systems to go down,” said Delaney. “We also had five rooms flooded with burst pipes on our sprinkler system. All in all, I think we fared pretty well.”

There were also reports of the Highlands Literacy & Learning Center flooding as well as the Peggy Crosby Center but details were not available by press time.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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