Water main break Wednesday repaired after day-long effort

By Ralph Echtinaw

Cold weather and frost movement were partly to blame for a leaking 6-inch water main Wednesday on East Tyrell at South Main Street when the daytime high was 3 degrees.

The leak was reported around 10 a.m., and the crew worked most of the day just to find the part of the line that was leaking, said Public Services Director Keith Risdon via email.

“There were other utilities in the way once they got the hole opened up which made the repair more difficult,” Risdon said. “Also, the leak came out of the ground at a difference location than the actual break (water traveled along the pipe trench), so they had to continue excavating along the pipeline to find the break. 

Further complicating the repair, the break occurred near the interface been the South Main pavement and the concrete flower pad in the southeast corner of the intersection. 

“The weather, the landscaping, the conflicting utilities and having to chase the water back to find the break all contributed to a slower process than we normally encounter,” Risdon said.

There are no more than eight connections to that particular line, Risdon said, and the line wasn’t shut down during the repair, although residents may have experience lower-than-usual flow.

Water Department personnel prefer to allow main leaks to flow out into the trench where they remove it with sump pumps and the city’s Vactor truck. This prevents loose material from entering the water main, and water continues to flow out of the pipe.

Vactor Truck

The city’s Vactor truck was used to keep water out of the hole while the break was repaired.

Once the line is exposed and cleaned, and the trench is cleared, a repair sleeve can be installed. Workers may reduce the flow of the water by closing some area valves.  They still leave the water flowing from the break but reduce the flow to allow workers to install the repair sleeve or clamp. 

“Yesterday was especially difficult for the staff in the trench as they were getting wet while trying to locate and repair the leak,” Risdon said. In yesterday’s temperature, they had to be very careful. The small sump pump that they were using to help dewater the trench had to be repeatedly placed in one of the service truck with the truck heater on to keep it from freezing.” Work was completed around 8 p.m.

“The guys wanted to pass along their THANKS to the local couple (we didn’t get their names) who stopped on site with hot coffee which they purchased from the 7-Eleven to help warm them up in the bitter cold,” Risdon said. “Its really nice to have our residents see our staff working in these conditions and taking it upon themselves to buy and deliver hot coffee. Thanks again!!!”


This may have been the last hurrah for the city’s Vactor truck, as a new Vactor truck is expected to be delivered late next week.



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