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City water main is still unrepaired

December 05, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

A large water main for the City of Hagerstown's system that broke Friday remained unrepaired Saturday and could stay that way for a week or more, David Shindle, manager of the City Water and Sewer Department, said Saturday.

Water pressure no longer was a problem Saturday for area customers, and Shindle said that while water may have been discolored for some customers on Friday, it did not pose any health risks.

The pipe that burst was 24 inches in diameter, one of the largest in the city's system, and one of only two pipes that feed from the city's R.C. Willson Water Treatment Plant in Williamsport, which processes most of the city's drinking water.

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"A chunk blew out" of the pipe about 9:30 a.m. Friday, Shindle said. By Saturday afternoon, crews had dug near the pipe to discover the broken area and a crack leading away from the burst. It wasn't clear how much farther the crack led, but the crack was at least 6 feet long.

Because of the size of the pipe, the amount of pressure it usually is under when in service and other engineering factors, the pipe cannot be replaced immediately, Shindle said. However, the break does not immediately create an emergency situation because the city was able to supplement its water supply with water from a second source.

To repair the pipe, the city is in discussions with Martinsburg, W.Va.-based Hughes Supplies, a vendor for water system supplies, city spokeswoman Karen Giffin said. She said it may be necessary to speak with other vendors before the pipe is repaired.

The city's William M. Breichner plant in Smithsburg uses water collected from area streams, Shindle said, and was checked last week for winter preparedness. Shindle credited Water Production Superintendent William Luhn with preparing the plant.

Shindle said that had it not been prepared by Friday, the city likely would have gone much longer without full water service.

About 80 percent of the city's 85,000 customers were affected by Friday's break.

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