Downtown without water

STEUBENVILLE — City water department crews are scrambling today to find a massive water leak that has led to water being shut off to the downtown area.

City Manager James Mavromatis said the entire city is under a water conservation order.

Water may be off for days in the downtown area, Chuck Murphy, city utility director, said this morning.

The lack of water downtown resulted in government offices and schools being closed. The Franciscan University of Steubenville also was without water.

“We have a leak, but we don’t know where. We had to shut off water to the downtown. We have a massive problem right now,” Murphy said.

Leak detection crews have been in the city trying to find the source of the problem.

Mavromatis said the problem has been compounded with numerous leaks throughout the city in the past couple of weeks, causing levels in water tanks to drop.

“We are losing water quicker than we can (fill tanks). Until we find this leak, we don’t know what we are dealing with. We are losing a massive amount of water,” he said.

Murphy said an existing leak worsened or another leak happened overnight. As a result, the city is losing water faster than it can be produced and put back into the system, he said.

Once the tanks in the city get filled, Murphy said crews will turn the water back on to the downtown area.

The leak isn’t coming to the surface, so it is probably draining into sewer lines, he noted, and crews plan to check sewer lines for increased flow.

Crews also will be digging up water lines and installing valves. Once that is completed, Murphy said water will be turned off and on to try to isolate the leak.

“We have been at it all night,” he said early today.

The conservation order will remain in effect until the leak is found and fixed.

In Weirton, meanwhile, officials are encouraging residents along Kings Creek Road to evacuate as a precaution because of rising waters.

City Manager Travis Blosser said while no homes have been directly threatened by flooding as of this morning, there is potential in the areas of Greentree Lane and Country Club Estates.

“We’ve taken measures to evacuate residents,” Blosser said.

The Millsop Community Center has been established as an emergency shelter for those affected.