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Linglestown Gazette: 24/7 emergency line fails during water outage

Sunday, June 22, 2008

24/7 emergency line fails during water outage

Updated Monday, June 23, with link to news briefs. Also, Linglestown Gazette publisher Bill Bostic has filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's Bureau of Consumer Services about the water company's emergency phone number ringing busy during the outage.

As you probably know, there was a major water outage in the greater Linglestown area today due to a water main break along Linglestown Road in Susquehanna Township. Gazette headquarters went dry sometime in the 7 am hour.

Dozens of attempts to get through to someone at United Water Pennsylvania's so-called emergency telephone number were unsuccessful – I got a busy signal every time. I finally heard a report on WHP 580 AM early in the 9 am hour about the outage.

With the advanced telecommunications technology available today, I’m disturbed that the water company doesn’t have a system to properly handle customer calls during a widespread outage. They should at least have a system in place to give an automated message when call volumes go through the roof that would say something like this:

We’re aware of the disruption of service that is affecting customers along Linglestown Road in Lower Paxton and Susquehanna townships. We are working to restore service as soon as possible. Work to fix the problem is under way. We will update local radio and TV stations with updates.

I guess utility monopolies don’t think about this kind of common sense stuff.

The Patriot-News published a news release on PennLive.com Sunday at 11:10 am. The lastest info that I've seen was posted by WHTM abc27 early Monday afternoon, June 23.



At 9:25 PM, Blogger floor9 said...

This blows my mind. Intelligent telephony products hit the mainstream at some point in the mid-90s; expecting even a small company to have the facilities to handle massive call volume spikes is entirely reasonable. Someone at Pennsylvania American water dropped the ball on this one.

At 12:04 AM, Anonymous ThePurd said...

Likewise here with the inability to get through to United Water. Even used the phone company option of dialing us when the line opened ... never got the call

At 1:10 AM, Blogger Harry said...

I am not surprised by this at all. Perhaps an incident like this will get them to update their phone systems.

At 10:20 AM, Anonymous CoachJB said...

The amazing part is that they say they have an automated phone system and that it was used to notify customers who had to boil their water.

The news releases on various news outlets and UWPA web site were conflicting which said (a) anyone without water needed to boil water, (b) only those near the actual main break needed to boil water and/or (c) those impacted needing to boil water would receive an automated phone call from UWPA.

I live near the intersection of Linglestown Rd and Colonial Rd, did not have water until noon and never got a call so I assumed no boil water advisory but who knows from the conflicting info above.

If (c) above is correct, it seems that UWPA has an automated outbound call system but not an inboun automated call system.

At 12:05 PM, Anonymous CoachJB said...

Terrible system - if you read only limited news releases or even the one on UWPA website, you would think that if you did not have water on Sunday morning you would need to boil the water.

At 2:39 PM, Blogger BB said...

I got a call from a United Water Pennsylvania official in response to my complaint filed this morning with the PUC – message from the PUC incorrectly said that I didn't have water today.

Apparently the water company's telephone system crashed due to the large influx of incoming calls after the outage Sunday morning. Company managers are reviewing what happened today, she said.

Residents who live in the Linglestown area do NOT have to boil water, she added – only customers who live near the Beaufort Plaza along Susquehanna Twp. are under a boil-water advisory.


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