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cfpuafolo300.jpg Submitted by Ann McAdams on Tue, 07/27/2010 - 9:25am.

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Now that things are getting back to normal with the drinking water in Wilmington, a lot of people want to know what went wrong at the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority Friday. A massive water main break forced the Authority to issue a state of emergency and a boil water advisory for more than 100,000 people. Jonathan Green woke up Monday morning to take a shower, and the water looked like this. "I ended up having to take a bath in bottled water," Green said. "This has put a lot of people in a lot of bad situations, and on top of that, they need to cut us a discount on our water bill and everything, because we had to buy bottled water." Green is one of thousands of people demanding answers after what is believed to be the worst drinking water outage in New Hanover County's history. The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is still trying to figure out what went wrong. For one thing, the cast iron water main that failed was 90 years old, and only had a life span of 50 years. It was scheduled to be replaced within the next few months, and crews were connecting another main when the old one failed. "We're still in that process and reviewing and looking at the pipe, but in talking to the staff, there was no water hammer or sudden change of flows that occurred at that point in time," CFPUA Drinking Water Superintendent Mike Richardson said. One other thing that didn't sit well with some residents: threats of being fined up to $500 for non-essential water use on one of the hottest days of the year. Making matters worse, the City of Wilmington was running its sprinklers in the midst of the mandatory conservation measures. Monday the CFPUA admitted it had no intentions to actually issue fines. "The hospital is on this system. Nursing homes are on this system. Dialysis centers are on this system. We wanted to make sure that we could get pressure to the areas that needed it, and the way to do that is scare people a little bit so they understand the gravity of the situation," CFPUA Project Manager Christene Mitchell said. It hasn't been the smoothest two years for the CFPUA. There have been major billing problems, big rate hikes and now the water main break. Despite some calls for a change in leadership, the CFPUA Board feels confident things are moving in the right direction. "We have all the confidence in our CEO (Matt Jordan) and his staff to lead the organization forward to address the issues that have plagued Wilmington and the surrounding areas for many many years," CFPUA Board chair Gene Renzgalia said. If you do have sediment in your water, like Green found this morning, the CFPUA says simply to run your water for a little bit, and it should flush itself out.

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