A 20-inch (51-centimeter) iron pipe that carries water from Rock Hill's treatment plant into the water system in York County, just south of Charlotte, North Carolina, broke Wednesday afternoon because of old age, Deputy City Manager Jimmy Bagley said. The pipe was fixed about 1 a.m. Thursday, and water was once again running through the system, but officials said it would take hours to restore pressure.
About 30 million gallons (113 million liters) - enough to fill more than 45 Olympic-size swimming pools - of treated water spilled, Bagley said.
"The pipe just aged out and couldn't take the pressure," he said. "The summertime drought conditions where we are putting out more pressure and more water than ever before certainly stressed it."
About 125,000 customers, including residents, schools and businesses, were left without water and forced to close. Many remained closed Thursday. The torrent of water also shut down U.S. Highway 21.
York County residents will need to boil their water until at least Friday afternoon to give state health officials time to test it for safety, Rock Hill Mayor John Gettys said Thursday.
City crews were opening fire hydrants to flush out mud and sediment that entered the system through the break and Gettys later asked residents to wait for that process to finish Thursday before washing clothes or taking showers.
York County is South Carolina's seventh most populous county, with 260,000 people, and one of the state's fastest growing areas.
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