Major leak forces Lamar to conserve water
By Samantha Lyles
In the middle of a summer heatwave, the Town of Lamar had to make a painful request from residents last week: Don’t water your lawn.
Also, don’t wash your car, or fill a swimming pool. In fact, residents were asked to use as little water as possible because somewhere in the town’s water supply system, a major leak had developed.
Mayor Pro Tem Lang Howell, who oversees the water system as part of his Town Council duties, said the problem was first noticed in mid-July.
“We’ve got engineers out here looking for (the leak) and we still haven’t found it, and it’s been going on two weeks now,” Howell told the News & Press.
The problem manifested as a sudden and drastic reduction in one of the town’s two elevated water tanks, which indicated that somewhere in the miles and miles of supply line into Lamar, a very large breach had occurred.
With temperatures regularly flirting with the 100-degree mark, townspeople were using more water to keep cool and sustain lawns and plants, and the outflow quickly outpaced the inflow. That’s when Lamar put out the call for help from citizens, using social media to urge a reduction in water use until the problem is fixed.
“Please don’t water the lawn unless you have your own irrigation pump. But if you’re using town water, please hold off. And if you’ve got a swimming pool and you’re filling it with town water, please don’t do that, either. For everyone, we’re asking that you try to use as little water at home as possible,” said Howell. “I know it’s hard, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet.”
Howell said that there is no need to boil water at this time because there is no sewer infiltration into the water supply.
Engineers from Darlington County Water & Sewer Authority, which supplies the town’s drinking water, and Ricky Ingram and Jerry Baxley from the South Carolina Rural Water Association came to Lamar last week to help find the leak. Howell said the laborious detection process involved moving across town in a pattern and repeatedly opening and closing water valves to measure affects on water flow.
At last word, Howell said engineers suspected a faulty valve somewhere along Cartersville Highway, but had not zeroed in on it. Once the problem is fixed and the need for conservation is over, citizens will be notified by the town’s Facebook page @Town-of-Lamar-SC. If you see any water leaks in Lamar, please call 843-861-3905 and report the location.