COLUMBIA, S.C. — Columbia Assistant Manager, Clint Shealy, says they are still investigating the cause of the power outage that lead to discolored water in the city.
"For years, we have not stopped pumping from this facility, says Shealy. "Our normal mode of operation is we're sending water out of this plant."
The incident lasted about 20 minutes on Saturday morning, but that was just enough time for water flow to change directions within the pipes.
"This particular set of pipes leaving the plant, they're not used to water going into multiple directions," says Shealy. "It's been going in one direction for years. So when that flow was stopped coming from the plant, water flow reversed in those pipes."
He says the discoloration and odor came from corrosion and buildup in those pipes.
"When you reverse that flow, it stirs that up. A little bit of ferrous material, although not harmful, it goes a long way to discoloring water."
He says the water is safe to drink and hopes that customers don't lose confidence in the city's drinking water.
"That's what is so disappointing to us and our staff, when things like what happened this weekend, happen, it does seem to shake customer confidence," says Shealy. "We don't want that to occur. We want them to take for granted that when they open the faucet, they're going to get clear, great tasting drinking water that's going to happen 365 days a year."
The city of Columbia is working to put $40 million worth of infrastructure into the water department for drinking water, storm-water and wastewater needs.
Some of those infrastructure improvements include updating the water treatment plant, replacing older pipelines in Columbia communities and replacing nearly 150,000 water meters for customers.