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Water main break generates "boil" notice

The city issued a “drinking water warning” notice to boil your water after a water main break at the SW corner of Main St. and S. West Ave. last week caused a loss of pressure in the water distribution system, potentially causing bacteria to contaminate the local water supply.

City utilities supervisor Ralph Brecken said the reason for the main break was most likely due to stress caused by recent fluctuations in temperature.

“It's a natural occurrence from the ground shifting over time,” Brecken said. “We call it a radial break when a pipe breaks around the circumference. It just snaps like an uncooked spaghetti noodle. Sometimes it's caused when the seasons change. The ground moves just enough to put a little crack in it and it just starts spraying, which lowers the water pressure.”

The break occurred on Friday, Jan. 30 right outside of the Speedway gas station. Traffic on Main St. was diverted to the middle lane until the damage was repaired. The store remained open, and customers continued to stream in and out despite the presence of a muddy, eight foot deep hole, large equipment from two contractors and a crew of seven municipal workers in bright neon vests.

“The traffic on M-21 adds to the length of time it takes to get the repairs done,” Brecken said. “We're always concerned about impeding traffic, our safety and the public's safety. The other item that really complicates this is there are a lot of other utilities right in the area. This is a main transmission point for fiber optic communications, there is a medium pressure gas line, there is a lot of stuff, so we're being extremely careful. We don't want to disrupt utilities, for our safety and the public's safety. We don't want to make the evening news!”

There may not have actually been any bacteria released into the water. The “boil” warnings are issued as a precaution every time there's a main break, just in case there was any contamination.

“Anytime you have a low pressure condition, we put it on just for safety,” Brecken said. “We don't want to take any chances with the public's health.”

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