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Water woes wreak havoc on Ironton

There was plenty of water gushing out of a hole at the corner of Fifth Street and Park Avenue Wednesday, but alas, no water gushing from water fountains at the Lawrence County Courthouse.

And even worse, no water to flush toilets at the courthouse, at the Lawrence County Jail and in other nearby homes and businesses.

Wednesday started out on a bad note for Ironton city public works' crews and ended at midnight as workers headed home after an extremely long day on the job. It was the second day in a row employees battled water line breaks.

"We have had probably six water line breaks in the last two days," Mayor John Elam said.

At 1 a.m. Wednesday, a section of a water main at Fifth Street and Park Avenue burst for the first time.

Mark White, superintendent of the water filtration plant, said that problem was repaired at approximately 4 p.m., but shortly after, a portion of the line approximately a foot away from the repaired part burst.

Once workers repaired that section, another section of line in front of the jail burst. Some of the portions of line replaced were likely installed at the turn of the last century, which is probably the reason for the water woes, White said.

"It's just the age of the water system," White said. "Some lines deteriorate quicker than others depending on the kind of material its in, but with an aging system, you're going to have these kinds of problems."

Wednesday's initial water line break created headaches for county officials who had to serve the public in spite of not having basic necessities for much of the day.

"It's difficult, but we're doing what we can," Clerk of Courts Les Boggs said. "We're trying to stay open for the public and we're bringing in water. It's a headache."

Signs on rest room doors read "out of order."

The headache was shared by Lawrence County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jeff Lawless, who had more than 70 inmates in his jail and more than a dozen employees who lacked running water much of the morning.

By noon, the county's 400-gallon water tank was brought in and water transferred into the jail to flush toilets.

"I'm asking different places, like Spriggs Distributing, if they have any bottled water they can give us to drink," Lawless said. "A lot of times places will have water they give away."

Some courthouse offices closed Wednesday when officeholders realized there was no water service. Others remained open.

White said the boil water advisory that was put into effect because of the water line breaks will likely be lifted this afternoon.