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Water authority talks about causes of Orange County water crisis

Date: 2/17/2017

CARRBORO, N.C. (WNCN) — Two weeks after the Orange County water crisis, officials met to look at two independent reports.

Consultants found that human error and malfunctioning equipment added two much fluoride to the water at a Carrboro treatment plant.

That problem was compounded when a pipe burst. While consultants couldn’t identify a clear cause for the break, they said pressure from a storm drain below and traffic above put the pipe under stress.

“It was doomed to have a short life, shorter than expected,” said Ed Kerwin, the head of the Orange Water and Sewer Authority, or OWASA.

Water from the pipe rushed into some nearby apartments.

Hannah Herzog said her renter’s insurance isn’t covering the damage.

“I can’t afford this,” she said.

She’s found a new place to live, but OWASA’s insurance will only pay out if it’s shown that negligence led to the broken main.

“We understand that for some the hardship was great, and claims certainly may be in order in those situations,” Kerwin said.

In the meantime, the Inter-faith Council for Social Service is working with OWASA to raise money to help people affected.

“It was really an opportunity, and we’re really blessed in this community that people sort of pitch in and help out,” said Kristin Lavergne, the council’s co-director.