Shepherdstown's water's back on

March 23, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION


A 10-inch water main that broke Tuesday in Shepherdstown and left the town without water until early Wednesday morning might have ruptured due to its age, said Chris Hutzler, assistant superintendent of the town's water plant.

Hutzler said the pipe, which is the main line coming out of the water treatment plant on Princess Street, was put in about 1973.

Although town residents were able to get water service back Wednesday, Jefferson County Superintendent of Schools R. Steven Nichols said he needs to keep Shepherdstown Elementary School and Shepherdstown Middle School closed again today because the water still needs to be tested.


The schools also need to stay closed because there was not enough water pressure Wednesday to flush toilets, Nichols said.

Hutzler said he is not sure what is causing the low water pressure.

The problem might correct itself once the town's water tanks fill, Hutzler said.

Classes were canceled Wednesday at Shepherd University Wednesday but will resume today, school spokeswoman Valerie Owens said.

After the line broke Tuesday afternoon, city workers began work to repair it at about 5:30 p.m., Hutzler said.

To repair the broken line, workers had to replace about a 5-foot section of the pipe, Hutzler said.

Workers began restoring water service to town residents at about 3 a.m. Wednesday. Full service was restored by about 5 a.m., Hutzler said.

Shepherdstown Elementary School and Shepherdstown Middle School were closed Wednesday because officials did not know Tuesday night how long it might take to repair the line, Hutzler said.

There was a gaping hole in the middle of Princess Street Wednesday afternoon as workers continued to do final repairs.

"These guys were amazing last night. They got into it and tore the thing up," Hutzler said Wednesday afternoon.

When the line broke, water plant workers were able to isolate the town's two 500,000-gallon water tanks along W.Va. 45 west of town and save most of the water in them, Hutzler said.

That meant it would be easier to refill the tanks that provide water pressure once the line was repaired, Hutzler said.

When a water system loses pressure, there is potential for contaminants to enter it, Hutzler said. Shepherdstown's water is being tested and until the results are available, which could be by Friday, town residents are advised to bring their water to a "rolling boil for one minute" before drinking it, Hutzler said.

Shepherd University officials are asking students to conserve water for up to two days to help the town bring water service to full capacity. Shepherd students should not drink the water until it has been determined to be safe, according to the school's Web site.

Water is available to students in the dining halls.

Water woes

  • A main line coming out of the Shepherdstown water plant ruptured Tuesday afternoon and left the town without water until early Wednesday.

  • Shepherdstown Elementary School and Shepherdstown Middle School were closed on Wednesday and will remain closed today because the water needs to be tested before students and staff may return.

  • Shepherd University is open today.

  • Town residents are advised to bring water to a running boil for about a minute before drinking it.
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