PORTSMOUTH — It will most likely be a week before anyone can drive over the site of a major waterline break on Kinney’s Lane, between Waller Street and Offnere Street in Portsmouth.
On Monday evening, the main feeder line that goes up to the reservoir suffered a major break.
“This is a 30-inch water main break,” George James of the City Water Distribution Department said as he took a break from a morning of working to repair the problem. “We replaced 74 inches of it. It needs replaced.”
James wasn’t sure but believes that line has been there for around 90 years.
“The bells break out where the joints go together,” James said. “They break a lot.”
James said when temperatures plunge, then rise, the ground moves, causing the breaks to occur.
“They get warm and then cold – freezing and thaw,” James said. “That’s what does it.”
James said there is still work to be done.
“We still need to saw cut it, take out what’s bad and replace it,” James said. “We’re going to try to get the concrete in tomorrow (Wednesday).”
He said then Herb Dillow and the street crew would have to look at it to tell him what needs to be replaced.
Since it was the main feeder line, the city was without water for approximately a half hour on Monday.
“When it busts it just sucks all the water from other places into this main,” James said. “I got the call about 4 o’clock (Monday) and we had it shut down by 5.”
City Waterworks Director Sam Sutherland told the Times several factors make such breaks possible.
“There’s no real rhyme or reason other than you’ve got temperature change. You’ve got pipe that’s been in since the early 20s,” Sutherland said. “It’s a combination.”
James said the what made matters worse was people driving over the break.
“While water is flowing up they shouldn’t do that,” James said. “There was a big hole there and they just kept driving over it. We had to wait until the police got here and we got signs to barricade it off before we could even shut it down. If they (motorists) see that – they should go the other way.”
James said the result of driving over a waterline break can be disastrous.
“That main is about 12 feet deep,” James said. “It will swallow a car.”
“We’re having a meeting in the morning (Wednesday) with the engineering firm that’s working with us on getting that replaced,” Sutherland said. “Hopefully we’re going to start taking some steps to get some funding and get this thing fixed.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.