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Waterline break is Shepherdstown's fourth in three years

August 24, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. -- The town of Shepherdstown was dealing with its fourth waterline break in a little more than three years Monday night after a 10-inch line ruptured in front of the town's water treatment plant on Princess Street, an official at the plant said.

The waterline ruptured Sunday night about 10:30 p.m., about 30 feet from where a break occurred last year, said Chris Hutzler, assistant superintendent of the town's water treatment system.

The section of line that ruptured Sunday night was not replaced last year because it lies beneath the entrance to the water plant and is difficult to reach, Hutzler said.

Workers on Monday were digging down to the broken line, which included chipping away concrete around it, Hutzler said.

By early Monday night, workers were cutting the line around the rupture. About 9 p.m., Mayor Jim Auxer said the repair was under way and town officials expected to begin replenishing water to two town water tanks within an hour.

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Hutzler said he thought a supply of water in two tanks along W.Va. 45 would be enough to serve the town until the line is replaced. A combination of pumping water from the Potomac River and water from the tanks supplies the town's water, he said.

Hutzler said some town residents have experienced discolored water, which was caused by turbidity in the water after the line broke.

The town posted a message on its Web site --www.shepherdstown.us

-- saying residents might notice discolored water, but it was "purely an aesthetic issue." The discoloration did not affect the safety of the water, the message said.

The message asked water customers to temporarily halt all nonessential water usage including outdoor recreational uses, lawn watering, and car and laundry washing to conserve water.

"With college in, it really hits our tanks hard," Hutzler said.

Hutzler was referring to Shepherd University, one of the water department's customers. He said town officials contacted Shepherd officials about conserving water on campus.

Hutzler said it was difficult to determine what caused the rupture, speculating it could be the age of the line or settling of the ground.

Some of the town's waterline system dates to the 1970s, and the town has been working with an engineering firm to determine which sections of lines need to be replaced, Hutzler said.

Previous line breaks included one in November 2007, when a 12-inch line along Shepherd Grade Road near the Willowdale subdivision broke, leaving town residents without water as they began getting ready for the Thanksgiving weekend.

About a year and half before the Willowdale break, a waterline ruptured on the Shepherd University campus.

The manager of The Stone Soup Bistro in Shepherdstown said Monday water at his restaurant had not been discolored.

But if it becomes discolored, the restaurant will have to close because it won't be able to serve the water to customers and the restaurant's ice machines will have to be cleaned, Jacob Lynn said.

"Of course, that's lost revenue," Lynn said.

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