Atlanta lifts its last boil water advisory after almost a week of persistent problems

Atlanta officials on Thursday morning lifted the last boil water advisory put in place after a string of water main breaks left parts of the major US city without drinkable water nearly a week, underscoring the fragility of the nation’s aging infrastructure.

“We are pleased to announce that the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management has lifted the boil water advisory for the entire City of Atlanta! Thank you again for your incredible patience and support during this challenging time,” the city said on X.

The advisory was lifted a day after the city announced crews had completed repairs on a broken water main in Midtown, one of two large pipes that failed last Friday, causing disruptions to medical and school facilities, forcing businesses and tourist attractions to close and postponing two Megan Thee Stallion concerts.

Both pipes were about a century old, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens told CNN Monday; one was installed in 1910, the other in 1930.

Repairs on the other break near downtown were completed Saturday, allowing the city to lift a broader boil water advisory. But the break in Midtown at 11th and West Peachtree streets persisted, as did a boil advisory for a swath of the city stretching from Midtown to downtown and across several neighborhoods to the east.

City officials announced repairs were completed Wednesday, attributing the delay to “complications” – namely that the valve needed to shut off the water was directly under the break, Department of Watershed Management Commissioner Al Wiggins Jr. said.

The boil water advisory then lasted another day while officials and agencies ensured the water would be safe to drink. As of Thursday morning, water samples confirmed the drinking water “meets or exceeds standards stablished by the US Environmental Protection Agency as required by the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act,” the city said in its news release.

The pipe breaks highlighted a problem not unique to Atlanta. Across the country, cities are struggling with decaying water infrastructure that in 2021 received a C-minus on a report card from the American Society of Civil Engineers. More than 30% of the water mains in the US and Canada are over 50 years old, and failing water mains are on average 53 years old, a study last year from Utah State University found.

“The past few days were a call to action for all of us,” Dickens said Wednesday at a news conference. “Every city in America has aging infrastructure, and we will rise to meet this moment to ensure that residents and businesses alike have reliable access to water.”

Dickens – who was criticized as slow to respond to the crisis and conceded Atlanta officials could have more effectively communicated early on – has said the city is developing a $5 million fund to assist affected businesses. The city is also pursuing a plan to enact recommendations by the US Army Corps of Engineers, which is helping evaluate Atlanta’s water infrastructure to tackle any vulnerabilities.

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.

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