Evacuated residents return: Water off, repairs continue at Foothills Crossing Apartments
By Wes Wade | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Residents of Foothills Crossing Apartments returned to their homes Friday while workers continued repairs to the complex’s water and sewer lines.
Bill Irwin, the complex owner and landlord, said repairs should be finished today.
A portable restroom was brought on site Friday afternoon for residents to use while repairs are being finished, and Irwin said he opened up three vacant units currently under renovation so tenants could bathe.
Tenants were evacuated Wednesday afternoon after City of Maryville water department personnel determined there was a surface water and probable wastewater contamination threat to both the apartments’ water source and the city’s water system. Officials said this posed an immediate health hazard to residents at the complex, located at 549 Whitecrest Drive in Maryville.
There are 36 units at the complex and about 75 residents, Irwin said. Tenants were given just an hour to leave Wednesday afternoon after the water inspection revealed a cross-connection hazard. Maryville Public Works Director Baron Swafford said the hazard, which was determined Wednesday after water department personnel responded to inspect the water and sewer system Tuesday as part of ongoing codes enforcement inspections, could result in contamination of the city water system and complex water source.
The water at the complex was turned off Wednesday as repairs began, but everything was expected to return to normal today when repairs were completed.
Irwin had to hire a plumbing company for the work, which included the installation of a backflow preventer and other repairs to the sewer line. Irwin said he hired Scott’s Plumbing Company Inc. of Knoxville after calling several companies.
“They’re replacing some of the plumbing outside and we expected to finish tonight,” Irwin said, but a swimming pool which had been located in the center of the complex and was filled in years ago slowed the progress. “It’s slowing us down tremendously, but they should be finished either tonight or noon tomorrow.”
Irwin said the project started out with workers putting in the backflow preventer, which keeps water from nearby businesses from flowing into the complex’s lines, when workers discovered several other repairs that needed to be completed.
“They had unearthed some old plumbing that was about 70 years old, I guess,” Irwin said. “And they’re bringing several things up to current codes.”
No contaminated water
City officials said Friday in a news release that a precautionary water sample conducted by an independent laboratory and completed Friday showed no contaminated water at the apartments. Irwin said he was told that water at the complex was “better than perfect.”
John Macomber, a resident at the complex, said he didn’t find out that he wouldn’t be able to use the water until he returned.
While Macomber said he was glad to be back and had no issues inside his apartment, Gale McCammon said she’s had trouble with her plumbing and electricity since she moved to the complex in March 2012. She said she’s been unable to use her toilet because it leaks and can’t shower because of a lack of pressure in the shower head.
“I can’t take a bath because you never know what may crawl in with you,” McCammon said, adding that she has to use her kitchen sink to bathe.
Irwin said he is currently working to update the complex, particularly the older buildings, some of which he estimates have been around since the 1940s or ’50s.
“Most of it is cosmetic,” Irwins said. “Most of the units have been updated on the inside. Most have new carpet and have been repainted in the last two or three years. It’s mostly exterior things like siding and stuff like that.”
He added that the plumbing updates would be made in the older buildings.
“We’re mostly doing the update on the plumbing fixtures,” he said. “But it’s just an ongoing battle to stay ahead of the wear and tear on an apartment complex.”
The American Red Cross sheltered five apartment residents at its Maryville headquarters on Triangle Park Drive.