Shirley Drive Residents Experience Continued Water Problems

Reporter – Leigh Hester

Over the past three weeks, Shirley Drive residents have been left without water three times.

Jerome Levisy, a resident of Shirley Drive for the past four months, stood before the City Council on behalf of himself and his neighbors on Shirley Drive and asked the Council to have the line repaired.

“It is difficult having to carry in water for simple things like brushing our teeth or flushing our toilets,” he said, “it is like living in a third world country at times.”

The water main along Shirley Drive has has breakage issues for years, but most recently, the repeated breaks have created hardship during hot summer days. According to Levisy, each break forces residents of Shirley Drive to go without water at least 24 hours, and in one instance, for two and a half days. One of the breaks was fixed only to break again three hours later.

According to city staff, the line along Shirley Drive was probably built sometime in the 1940’s, and is unable to handle water pressure spikes occurring from an unknown source. Pressures in the line will drop to below 50 pounds per square inch (ppi), and then suddenly spike to over 88 ppi. These spikes are “hammering” on the pipe and forcing large segments to detach from the overall pipe.

The Shirley Drive pipe connects to the 12-inch water main along Dabney Drive, and so unless repairs are initiated immediately, the entire water system on the west side of Henderson may be affected.

The City Council voted to initiate informal bidding procedures to replace the water main along Shirley Drive with ductile iron pipe, which can withstand the water surges at current levels. They also voted to award a contract of up to $10,000 to Hazen and Sawyer, PC, to begin a study to determine the source of the water surges so that the surges can be stopped within the lines before another section of pipeline begins to weaken.

Levisy, the CEO of the Vance County Boys & Girls Club, said that all of the Public Works department employees had been very considerate and supportive, but that the issue is critical for his family and the other residents of Shirley Drive. Although the breaks have been an ongoing problem for years, he feels the Council has decided to be proactive at this point in rectifying the problem before it becomes a bigger issue for the city, and asks affected residents to be patient while the process of fixing the breaks moves forward.

Estimates from engineers for the replacement of the 1400 feet of iron pipe are around $300,000. Henderson will be requesting bids from contractors for the work.