Water leak creates hole downtown
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | June 08,2013
Rob Mitchell / Staff Photo
A crew from the Rutland City Department of Public Works repairs a leaking water main on Washington Street Friday. In the ditch doing the dirty work are Troy Ebbinghausen and Mike Nartowicz.
City officials said a major water leak outside City Hall was quickly plugged Friday.
The problem turned out to be not with the water main, but with a defunct connection.
“Much the same effect, but easier to fix,” Public Works Commissioner Jeffrey Wennberg said.
Wennberg said water began bubbling up to the surface on Washington Street in the early morning hours and that a 3-foot hole had formed by the time water was shut off.
“They got down to it pretty quickly this morning and discovered an old 2- or 3-inch tap that had, many years ago, served the Bardwell House and had been replaced by a 6-inch line in the ‘80s,” he said.
The old connection had rusted away, Wennberg said, creating the leak.
“They just had to put a clamp over the hole and establish a seal,” he said. “Once they were into it, they were able to fix it in about an hour. Things don’t often prove to be this simple. There was nothing functionally wrong with the water main at all.”
City Hall was temporarily without water along with the Bardwell House and the buildings on Merchants Row between Washington and Center streets. The shopping plaza was unaffected, Wennberg said, and the restaurants on that block were not open yet, but fire protection was a concern with no water going to the local fire hydrants or sprinkler systems.
“The fire department was aware,” Wennberg said. “They already had alternate plans for running lines from hydrants that were working.”
Wennberg said work started around 7 a.m. and that service was restored between 9:30 and 9:45 a.m., with most of that time spent on excavation. Washington Street was closed between Merchants Row and Wales Street for the morning. DPW used Twitter and Facebook to get word out on the issue.
“The more we can rely on people relying on that stuff, the less I’m going to worry about making phone calls,” Wennberg said. “When it’s affecting people’s lives, keeping them informed is about 90 percent of the battle.”
A call to the Bardwell House was not immediately returned Friday.