Alexandria, La. (February 18, 2021) — City of Alexandria crews completed restoration of power to customers affected by Winter Storm Viola on Thursday, and power was partially restored to the City’s water wells in Kisatchie National Forest to help improve water supply following back-to-back winter storms this week.
“Power outages in the city affected about 3,300 customers on Wednesday, and thanks to the hard work of our utility crews and our contractors, we completed restoration today,” said Alexandria Mayor Jeff Hall. “Stabilizing the water system is our main concern now. We are working with Cleco to get all power restored at our water wells in the Kisatchie National Forest. They have made some progress, and once they are complete, we can increase production and begin the process of refilling our storage tanks which will allow system pressure to slowly recover to normal levels.”
Any city resident who is without power should call 318-473-1301 to report the outage.
Loss of electrical power to city wells in the Kisatchie National Forest on Wednesday, combined with increased water use from broken pipes and residents dripping faucets to prevent frozen pipes, caused a severe decrease in water pressure. While the city had 15 wells in full operation inside the city and generators in place in Kisatchie in anticipation of a possible power loss, water production was not able to keep up with demand.
Power was restored by Cleco to six of the 32 city wells in Kisatchie by mid-morning Thursday and a significant portion were expected to be re-energized Thursday night; approximately 6 wells will remain to be restored Friday.
“We need residents to continue to minimize their use of water until the system can catch up and we can get the water pressure back up,” said Utility Director Michael Marcotte. “If everyone does their best to conserve and not use water, we could be able to get pressure back up within 24-36 hours.”
One thing that could slow that timeline is discovering additional broken pipes as temperatures rise and pipes thaw. “Business owners that have been closed may go in Friday and find they have leaks, and residents may have pipes start leaking as we get above freezing,” Marcotte said. “If someone has a leak and they are not able to shut off the water, they can give us a call at 318-473-1264, and we can come shut off the water for them. It’s imperative that we shut down any leaks as quickly as possible so we can rebuild our water supply and pressure.”
A city-wide boil advisory was issued Wednesday when the system’s water pressure dropped below 20 psi. The normal range is around 50 psi. As water service is restored, residents are advised not to drink the water until they boil it, which includes bringing the water to a rolling boil for at least one minute.
“It will be up to the Department of Health as to how long the boil advisory remains in place,” Marcotte said. “Once the water pressure stabilizes we will start taking test samples and send them for testing to ensure water safety. Those tests can take 24-48 hours if not longer. As was the case after Hurricane Laura, the boil advisory will remain in place until testing shows the water is safe for residents to drink.”
Road conditions throughout the city remain hazardous. Temperatures are expected to be below freezing again Thursday night, which will allow for some refreezing overnight, so residents are asked to minimize travel.
City offices will remain closed Friday, including ATRANS bus service and household trash pickup.