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Gaston loses $1,200 worth of water

Reservoir's shutoff valve malfunctions, allowing major overflow

A double malfunction caused the city of Gaston to lose about 850,000 gallons of water in December when its reservoir overflowed after a control line that went from the water pumps to the reservoir tank broke.

Usually the automatic shutoff kicks in when the tank has enough water, but Gaston Public Works Director Rich Williams thinks a patch on the control line and the automatic shut-off was likely damaged by flooding.

The reservoir was full but because the auto-shutoff wasn’t working the city’s two pumps kept pumping water into the reservoir at about 1,000 gallons per minute for about 14 hours before Williams could find out what went wrong.

Before they were able to figure out what was going on, the tank had spilt about 850,000 gallons — which is about how much the tank can hold — and flooded some properties

on Southwest South Road, near the reservoir on Costelloe Drive.

Usually, the alarm system would alert the city to such a big problem, but that’s where the second malfunction came in. Instead of the high-level alert that should have sounded, Williams said, the alarm sounded a low-level alert so he didn’t realize the leak was so bad. The alarm system was probably also damaged by flooding, he said.

Meanwhile, Williams has been going out to the pump station every few days, where he turns on the pumps manually to pump more water into the reservoir for a few hours.

The incident cost the city about $1,500 to $2,000, Williams estimated. Gaston buys water from the city of Hillsboro. In December, the city lost about one third of the water it purchased.

The city is working to fix the problem by adding a control cable.

Longterm goals for Gaston’s water system include fixing the system so any power disruption for any reason will cause the pumps to automatically shut off and be manually started back up again. That’s a long-term goal, though, Williams said, and would likely be expensive.