Computer system failure to blame in W. Memphis pipe burst, water - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Computer system failure to blame in W. Memphis pipe burst, water outage

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Residents and businesses are dealing with no water in West Memphis. Residents and businesses are dealing with no water in West Memphis.
Crews are working to get the water turned back on for residents. Crews are working to get the water turned back on for residents.
When people tried to turn on their faucet there was no water. When people tried to turn on their faucet there was no water.
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WEST MEMPHIS, AR -

(WMC-TV) - A critical computer system failure caused a pipe to burst in West Memphis during one of the coldest nights in recent history. It left residents and businesses without water and under a boil-water notice Monday.

Like many, Melvin Sadler hit the supermarket for bottled water.

"Most of the local stores, they're stocking up on it. So, right now just get out an get it while you got a chance," said Sadler.

Some resident woke up with nothing.

"[My water] is brown actually ... Coming out the faucet brown," said Lavesha Granger.

City officials say the water supply's tanks did not replenish overnight and the entire system lost water pressure.

"Our distribution pumps froze up and that pushes water to our water tanks," said West Memphis Utilities Commission general manager John Rimmer. "It was showing that two of the pumps were running when they weren't. So the SCADA system that alerts us just went down. Normally this could happen and we'd be right on top of it, and it wouldn't be an issue.

Officials describe the issue as cold weather-related mechanical systems failures.

"It's not something that occurs very often," said Jeff Stone, Arkansas Department of Health Director of Engineering Department.

State health officials put out a precautionary boil-water notice for the entire city. It advises to throw out all ice cubes and do not drink or prepare food with water straight from the tap without first boiling for one minute.

"It is our expectation that it will be mid- to late-week during this week before the precautionary boil-water alert will be lifted," said Stone.

Meanwhile, some local business owners will be struggling.

"This washing machine don't work," said general manager at St. Bernard Cleaners Yong Wook Cho. My business is really bad [Monday]."

Any profits for St. Bernard cleaners are frozen until the problems are fixed.

Crews are working to get the water turned back on for residents, but people should expect to boil their water until further notice. The city will have to send samples to the Arkansas Department of Health before giving the clear to people and business owners already dealing with the freezing cold.

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