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Asphalt on Main picks up another blemish

News editor

Scarred twice in recent months, the asphalt overlay on Main St. picked up another blemish Thursday from the repair of a 6-inch water line leak near Central Park.

However, if not for a camera inspection of an adjacent sewer line the week before, the leak could have been worse.

“We were looking for one problem and found another,” streets superintendent Marty Fredrickson said. “We’ve got a sewer main we have to repair, so we did some camera work. They came across an area where the water line and sewer line cross, and there was some leaking.”

That area was where the water line crosses Main St. from the Elm St. corner to serve the park. The seepage observed on camera was minor.

It became a major problem rapidly. The flow through a nearby sewer lift station Aug. 29 was eight times greater than normal, and Fredrickson said with the maze of lines feeding that sewer line they were fortunate to know where to start looking, thanks to the camera footage.

“That leak had gotten dramatically worse,” he said. “Something like that would’ve been impossible to find, and we would’ve been clueless.”

The broken pipe is indicative of the challenges the city will encounter as it operates a water system dependent on old lines. Fredrickson said the broken line could be 90 years old.

“The old timers tell me those lines were probably from the 1920s and ‘30s that used lead joints like that,” Fredrickson said.

While the water leak is fixed the sewer problem remains and, like the water line, is likely the result of old construction standards that allowed pipes to intersect.

“I think it’s just a place where it’s settling. Right in that area is where the storm sewer overlaps with the waste sewer,” Fredrickson said.

City administrator Roger Holter said they have two options that won’t require ripping another hole in the asphalt overlay.

“That’s the primary focus at this point, to not destroy the street we just resurfaced last year,” Holter said. “We’ll try the lining process first, if that does not work, we’ll do coring.”

Lining can be done from existing manholes on either side of the depression, while coring requires a specialized drill that can change directions underground. Holter said if they have to resort to that option, they can start in the park and drill underneath the street to the sewer line.

“We’ll be able to do it without tearing into the street,” Holter said.

Last modified Sept. 11, 2014

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