LIVORNO, Italy- Not since the end of World War II has the city of Livorno gone without water for so long. Disruption of water service throughout the city March 12-15 was a consequence of a terrible storm that traversed the area during the night of March 11-12. Lightning struck the Azienda Servizi Ambientali, or ASA, the network control system, making it inoperable.

At the same time a soil subsidence in the Navicelli Canal, adjacent to the Camp Darby main gate behind the Mississippi pub, caused the rupture of an 800-mm section of a collector pipe in the Livorno water plant. The damage was detected later than it usually would have been due to the breakdown of the control system network.

"The rupture happened in an unpredictable area," said Fabio Del Nista, ASA director. "It broke in a smooth curve of the pipe, which was protected by a 45-tons concrete cover and located 7 meters under the Navicelli Canal water level."

Beginning March 12, ASA workers carried out repair efforts 24 hours a day in the cold and rain, working in the mud and water to repair the rupture.

Lawrence Kilgore, DMC garrison manager offered to provide any support the workers needed. He offered free, temporary use of the Casa Toscana apartments to Livorno residents affected by the water loss.

"We are thankful for our neighbor community of Camp Darby for offering support to our workers," Del Nista said. "We know this disservice caused many inconveniences to the people. Many are complaining and it's nice that some others showed sympathy."

Upon removing the block of reinforced concrete, ASA technicians proceeded to position sheet pile inside the trench, where they lowered the replacement for the failed pipe.

"Everything is going according to schedule," said Ennio Trebino, ASA chief executive officer. "I am very satisfied with the hard work the ASA workers did during these four hard days. They did an excellent job in terrible conditions."

The Livorno Municipality, its volunteers and the ASA work force responded to the emergency by providing 15 tanker trucks tanks to distribute potable water to various locations throughout the city. All public fountains in Livorno were provided with multiple water taps to provide better service.

All Livorno schools were closed for three days, causing additional difficulties for families while the emergency was in effect.

Experiencing four days without water is definitely a challenge for many residents. Something as simple as a taking a hot shower, boiling water for pasta or just flushing the toilet became real issues.

"It was challenging and funny at the same time," said Livorno resident Claudia Meini. "I found myself washing my hair, then my feet, and then flushing with the same bucket of water."

For some, the experience brought back memories of the bad old days of wartime.

"It's like during the war," said an old woman named Maria while filling bottles at the public water tanks.

The emergency ended the morning of March 15 after four days of uninterrupted repair work, but some city areas had to wait till the next day enjoy the resumption of water service.

"For the first few hours the water is back, it may not appear clear," said Del Nista. "This is due to the lack of pressure and some natural residues in it, but I want to reassure everyone that the water is perfectly potable and can be used for kitchen needs."