City crews restore water service after water main break spilled 14 million gallons of water

On Thursday, Jan. 3, one of the City’s biggest water mains was ruptured by a private contractor working at a construction site in downtown Minneapolis. The break in the 36-inch water transmission line caused approximately 14 million gallons of water to spill onto the street near the corner of Hennepin Avenue and 2nd Street North. The break, which occurred at about 2:30 p.m., snarled traffic and caused residents as far south as the Chain of Lakes to lose water pressure.

Thanks to the hard work of City crews, that spill was contained and normal water pressure was restored to all but a few customers that same day. All but three blocks of 2nd Street North had water service fully restored in just a few hours.

By Friday, all bars and restaurants had water service restored in time to handle peak weekend dining and entertainment plans.

The remaining customers in the half dozen buildings without water had normal service restored on Sunday, after the water main was repaired. While crews were in the process of disinfecting the water system and making sure it was safe to drink, a backup service using temporary water lines was in place for the buildings that were without water since the break.

Meanwhile, nearly all of the streets that needed to close were reopened around 24 hours after the water main break. The water spilled onto Hennepin Avenue – one of the busiest streets in downtown Minneapolis. Before opening the street, crews removed water and ice and also made sure the roadway was not damaged by the excess water. About 24 hours after the water main break, northbound Hennepin Avenue was back open for the evening rush.

The damaged cast-iron pipe, which was built in the late 1890s, had a 6-ft. long gash as a result of the accident. Crews had to use a crane to remove a backhoe out of the hole where the water main break occurred. Due to the size of the water main, City crews had to work carefully to avoid further damage. Crews had to close off water valves farther from the site to gradually reduce the water flow and volume. To do that, crews had to shut 37 smaller valves to reduce water pressure. Once pressure was reduced, work could then begin on closing the main valve. Working on the main valve took about 2 ½ hours. Only after the water was off and the valve was isolated, could crews begin repairing the broken pipe.

Minneapolis is the state’s largest producer of drinking water, producing around 60 million gallons every day for approximately a half million people. Throughout the water main break, the City delivered tap water that met or was better than federal Safe Drinking Water standards.

 

Published Jan. 30, 2013