Watermain break

Brandon Mistelske unhooks the lift chains, in a light rain, from the worker safety cage after it was placed in a hole dug to uncover a cracked water main in front of Saratoga Town Hall so replacement work on the iron pipe could begin. Water and Sewer Supervisor Chuck McVey runs the backhoe.

This week’s Saratoga Town Council meeting was briefly interrupted when a 10-inch iron water main in front of Town Hall ruptured at about 7 p.m. Tuesday.

This break acted like a pressure washer nozzle and liquified the road base around the break creating a 6-foot hole, said Public Works Director Jon Winter. Because of the pressure, it erupted through the 4 inches of asphalt, spreading water and mud across the parking area in front of the building.

Water did not enter Town Hall or any other building. The escaping water flowed to the corner street drains and as far away as the Bridge Avenue drain at the Wolf Hotel.

The water main break on East Spring Avenue resulted in a loss of pressure throughout the town for a couple of hours. After the damaged pipe was isolated, the town water system was repressured.

Properties that get their water from the Spring Avenue water main between South River Avenue and Third Street were cut off from water into the late evening, Winter said.

Only a small amount of work was done on the break Tuesday evening to protect two homes across from the Town Hall from the escaping water as the main drained out. One block of the street in front of the fire station, Town Hall and parking lot was closed with cones and the sinkhole marked with a single orange cone.

After returning from executive session at the end of their regular council meeting, the Saratoga Town Council granted an emergency contract to Alexander Excavation, the contractor doing the water project at the Saratoga Airport, to assist in the repair, but the help was not needed.

On Wednesday morning, Saratoga’s Water Dogs repair crew began to excavate the hole to reach the water main, using a backhoe and a sump pump to remove the escaped water and to try and get the hole big and dry enough to work in.

When they reached the pipe, which was laid in the 1970s or ‘80s, they had to determine if the break could be patched with a repair clamp or whether the damaged section of the line would have to be removed and replaced, said Winter.

“Our goal is to have this fixed as quickly as possible. We hope to have the repairs completed by today (Wednesday),” he said.

This line’s replacement is on the list of proposed projects that would be paid for with the Specific Purpose Tax funding. Replacing the water line was not discussed at the just-concluded council meeting.

Water service was cut off for 24 hours to the fire station and Town Hall as well as the two residences in that block. RP Lumber Co., the Platte Valley Community Center and Saint Anne’s Catholic Church, along with other businesses and three homes in the next two blocks, also were without water.

On Wednesday afternoon, the decision was made to replace 10 to 12 feet of the pipe because of a large crack that as found when the old water pipe was uncovered. The new replacement pipe section was not welded but is attached to the existing pipe with bolted pressure fittings at both ends.

After the repair was finished, this section of water main was slowly repressurized and the line was blown clear of any contaminants with fresh treated water by opening a nearby fire hydrant in front of the fire station.

Then it was reconnected to the town water system. The line repair was completed late Wednesday evening a little more than 24 hours after the break.

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