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Water safe after leakage
SoVaNow.com / September 05, 2013Summit Drive residents need not worry about the quality of their drinking water after bacteria testing conducted in the wake of a water main break on Sunday morning came up negative.
Mark Estes, executive director of the Halifax County Service Authority, said two rounds of tests — on Monday and Tuesday — failed to reveal significant bacteria levels in the neighborhood’s drinking water. The testing was ordered after some 34 customers experienced a loss of water pressure with the partial failure of a 10-inch cast iron line at the intersection of Summit and Railroad Avenue.
The pipe, dating back to the 1920s, was one of the oldest lines in the system, according to Estes. He speculated the break may have been the result of moist summer weather.
“We usually see this [water main breaks] when the seasons change and the ground is expanding and contracting with the change in temperature,” said Estes. He added, “This has been a really moist year, so I think this had an effect.”
After the problem was discovered, the HCSA advised residents to boil their drinking water for a 72-hour period as a safety measure. The boil water notice was due to expire yesterday afternoon even without the HCSA learning the results of 24-hour bacteriological tests.
“We did this as a precaution,” said Estes.
Efforts to repair the break were hampered by overgrown terrain around the area.
Summit Drive-Railroad Avenue intersection and the difficulty in clearing the scattered fill material around the pipe itself — concrete tailings, broken concrete masonry blocks, bricks and dirt. The HCSA had to call in a local contractor to excavate the area after its staff was unable to get to the broken line.
Once the leak was discovered, HCSA staff replaced the section of pipe that broke under the heavy bedding and fill material. An estimated 300,000 to 500,000 gallons of water spilled out around the area. The HCSA’s Leigh Street filter plant operated continuously throughout the failure to assure adequate drinking and fire water reserves.
The effect of water pressure reductions on residential customers was minimal, said Estes. “They never lost full water service.”
The water main is part of the original 1920 town system and connected the old Railroad Avenue Filter Plant to the Halifax Cotton Mill industrial site. With many such aging lines in the system, the HCSA is working with a consultant to develop a facilities plan to maintain and ultimately replace the most fragile parts of the system.
“The lines will be managed through an established depreciation schedule where additional revenues generated from water sales will be reserved to address those water lines that have reached their useful life,” Estes noted in a statement issued in the aftermath of the water main break. “We have a significant number of water mains where the age and condition of the lines could not addressed by the localities before the formation of the Authority.
“We will strive to continue providing quality water that meets all applicable standards and at a reasonable cost while striving to satisfy the needs of both existing and future customers. We appreciate the patience of our customers who experienced an interruption of water service during this event.”
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