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Columbia Utilities says water main near University of Missouri is repaired


The City of Columbia Utilities said Wednesday morning the 16-inch water main near the University of Missouri was repaired and back in service Tuesday at 10 p.m. 

However, the city says crews were refilling the hole and making temporary surface repairs. MU Spokesperson Christian Basi said some of the parking lot is still useable, however, any cars that were in the flooded area were moved to nearby lots.

A contractor will work to repair the parking lot, and Basi said it could take up to two weeks before the lot is fully repaired.

City of Columbia Utilities Spokesperson Matt Nestor said the boil advisory order on West Worley Street was expected to expire at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday. However, he was not able to verify it has expired yet.

The city says they will be testing the water quality but results take 24 hours.

On Tuesday, the city reported crews were replacing valves on West Worley Street and rerouted water during repairs. This led to a 16-inch water main near the University of Missouri campus to break.

This is the fifth water main break ABC 17 has reported on in Columbia in 2023. There were previously breaks in August, June and May. Nestor said there were 180 total water main breaks during fiscal year 2023 from Oct. 2022 to Oct. 2023.

In an email, Nestor said weather is the main factor of water main breaks, but old pipes, contractor hits and sudden fluctuations in pressure can also be causes. He said some of the pipes underground are more than 100 years old. He said he is still waiting to get information about how much the breaks have cost the city.

The co-founder of the COMO Safe Water Coalition, Julie Ryan, said she believes these breaks are occurring due to age, lack of upkeep and certain chemicals that degrade the distribution system. She said she wishes the city would be more proactive in addressing water-related issues.

"The problem with our water utility is things happen slowly and they don't happen effectively or with any amount of leadership or transparency," Ryan said. "So, we are not surprised when we see failures in the system."

Columbia residents were alerted by the city Tuesday of possible water issues due to the break, citing possible low water pressure and water discoloration. However, the city said the water is safe.

The water main break was in the parking lot of South Residence Hall at the University of Missouri. Residents there told ABC 17 News their basement laundry room was flooded. An MU spokesperson said an elevator was also out of order because of the flooding.

Basi said the university had a plan in place immediately to accommodate the flooded laundry room, elevator and parking lot. Staff will also work to assess the water damage.

The Columbia City Council passed a bill in September to allow Water and Electric System Revenue Bonds to fund the McBaine Water Treatment Plant Improvement Project. According to the city's website, the project will include rehabilitation and replacement projects to enhance the plant's performance.

Check back for updates as this story is developing.

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Erika McGuire

Erika McGuire originally comes from Detriot. She is a reporter and weekend anchor on ABC 17 News.

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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