Jun 4, 2024 - News

What's next for Atlanta's ancient water pipes

Illustration of a magnifying glass over an open sewer hole

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Atlanta watershed officials are calling in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and plan to launch a comprehensive review of the city's labyrinthine, under-maintained and ancient water system after two ruptured pipes unleashed a weekend of infrastructure woes.

Why it matters: Who wants to go through this again?

The latest: The boil-water advisory has been lifted for some areas affected by Friday's water main break at Joseph E. Boone Boulevard and James P. Brawley Drive.

  • The advisory remains in effect for areas of Midtown near the 11th and W. Peachtree Streets and neighborhoods in east Atlanta.
  • A map detailing affected areas can be viewed on Atlanta watershed's website.

Zoom in: At a briefing to the Atlanta City Council yesterday, Department of Watershed Management commissioner Al Wiggins Jr. said officials would review the 3,000 miles of pipes shooting across the city — some of which are decades old or made of bricks or terra-cotta.

  • The review would focus first on dense areas, Wiggins said.

The big picture: The city's lapse in consistent communication with the public was top of mind for Council members.

  • LaChandra Butler Burks, Atlanta's chief operating officer, blamed the lack of updates and confusing information on tunnel vision during a crisis and the expectation that repairs were within reach.
  • "There was a 10-hour silence, which was deafening, but once we got back to that, it feels like we're not telling folks what they want to know," said Council member Alex Wan, who represents northeast Atlanta.
  • "I just need to have the confidence that someone is thinking through that … and recognizing that when we roll out a message, it is what folks want to hear and it's consistent across all channels."

What's next: The Council's Utilities Committee will review the city's infrastructure and response plans on June 11 after the regularly scheduled meeting.

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