Most of a watertower gushes onto street

Staff writer

A water main break in front of the former Country Lakes restaurant on Main St. spewed the equivalent of two-thirds of a water tower of water downtown and caused extensive soil erosion underneath newly-resurfaced pavement.

“It happened Friday at 3 p.m., right before quitting time,” streets superintendent Marty Fredrickson said. “A four-inch hole in an eight-inch line at 60 pounds per square inch is going to blow a lot of water.”

Fredrickson compared the estimated 51,000 gallons of water lost to the capacity of the water tower near Marion High School.

“Our small water tower is 75,000 gallons, so it dumped about two-thirds of the water tower,” he said. “From the amount of soil that washed somewhere, it created a void underneath the pavement. If you don’t get that filled back up you have the problem of parking on it and cracking it, and it could possibly cave in.”

Corrosion was the culprit Friday as well as in a break July 2 on Main St. in front of the former Power Pros shop.

“That pipe material is made of ductile iron. If the soil outside isn’t good, it corrodes from the outside in,” Fredrickson said.

A full-circle sleeve was sufficient to seal Friday’s leak. The crack in the pipe July 2 required extensive excavation and total replacement of a section of the main, Fredrickson said.

Part of the fix involves isolating excavated sections of pipe from surrounding soil.

“You almost have to remove the soil. We put sand around the pipe, that way it’s not touching bad soil or dirt. It’s something we learned over time,” Fredrickson said.

Both locations have rectangular holes roughly 20 by 50 feet waiting to be filled, and Fredrickson said that should happen by the end of the week. Weather has delayed completion of repairs from the July 2 leak.

“Every time I open one on Main St. it seems it rains,” Fredrickson said.

Hett Construction will finish work on the first leak site, and may need to be used for the second, city administrator Roger Holter said.

“With our equipment we can do 18 feet in width, and if it’s over 18 feet we have to have the contractor, because he has the equipment to go 24 feet in one pass,” Holter said.

The cost of the initial repair and street patching for the July 2 leak was $4,451, Holter said. If the repairs for Friday’s leak approach that amount, Fredrickson will have to monitor his remaining budget closely.

“These particular two we still have enough funding in the budget that it won’t require reallocation of funds,” Holter said. “Supply purchases, things like that, will have to be looked at and actually put on hold.”

Water service to businesses was not interrupted, as they are served by a line that runs through the alley, Fredrickson said. The broken line supplies water to fire hydrants.

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