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'Worst time for this to be happening': Search for Milledgeville water main break continues

City leaders focused their attention on not only on fixing the smaller water leaks around the city, but also handing out water to folks

MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — The hunt for the big water main break in Milledgeville is still underway. City leaders focused on fixing the more minor water leaks around the city and handing out water to folks who've been without it since Sunday night.
City Manager Hank Griffeth has put out a water boil advisory for when water does return.

13WMAZ's Jessica Cha shows you how folks have been doing with no water and the city's plan to address it.

Mayor Mary Parham Copelan and City Manager Hank Griffeth say that crews and contractors have been working since Christmas Eve to locate leaks all around town. 

Smaller ones are being addressed at several locations like South Wayne Street, Columbia Street, Lincoln and MLK Jr. Street. Water distribution is also another big priority of theirs.

Robin Walker has lived in Milledgeville for 40 years. He says he's previously experienced water outages in town, but he's never been without water for this long.

"Well, it's been going on for three days now," Walker explains. "One thing, we can't cook like we want to. Can't take showers and things like we want to."

Robin Stack says they returned from visiting family for Christmas and nothing came out when they turned the shower on.

"It isn't anyone's fault, but this is the worst time for this to be happening," she says.

Stack says they've been collecting water from lakes to flush the toilets, but they've had to use more bottled water to stay clean in the past few days than this past year.

She says they would eventually have to go out of town to stay with family if the water doesn't come back. Stack says they could only afford to stay at a hotel for a short time.

"It is not in the budget to have to spend this much money even on a couple of cases of bottled water. Especially now, right after Christmas," Stack explains.

Mayor Mary Parham Copelan says crews and contractors are working on leaks around the city.

"We want them [people] to know from the City of Milledgeville that we are working, and we are here on the grounds," she says.

At the same time, Parham Copelan and other city officials wanted to offer a case of water to folks to help deal with the lack of water for now.

"It won't totally aspirate what's going on, but it'll help them to at least take a bath and be able to boil the water to cook."

City Manager Hank Griffeth says they've narrowed down where the leak may be but finding it takes time.

"The pipe that we're looking at is over two miles long and runs through creeks and woods. It just has to be walked and determined," Griffeth says.

Parham Copelan and Griffeth explain that they were not prepared for the water emergency, and the pipes weren't ready to handle the cold snap that came. 

However, they say it does not have to do with the age of the pipes.

"All you have to do is look around the state and know that there are places with much newer infrastructure than we do that have had failures. We are not taking this lightly," he explains.

For now, the focus is to help the people who need it. The Milledgeville Fire Department, EMA director, Baldwin County Public Works, and several city council members helped hand out water to folks who've been without it since Sunday night.

"As strange as it is to say, I can't be more proud of how people have worked," Griffeth says.

"As the mayor, I still have that fire in my belly to make sure that we get these lines and infrastructure up to par," says Parham Copelan.

Some folks from the neighborhood we talked to yesterday that lost water say theirs returned, but the city manager says it's still important to conserve, and some places with water now could still lose it or lose pressure as they work on the system.

The three water distribution centers include the Parham Kitchen, the East Annex, and North Ridge Christian Church. People will be at those locations until 7 p.m. tonight. It's one case per family, and you must live in the impacted areas.

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