PWSA crews finish repairing one water main break, rush to repair another
By Bill Vidonic
Published: Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013, 12:32 p.m.
The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority scrambled Saturday to repair the second big water main break that occurred within the last three days, and interim executive director Jim Good said the agency simply can't afford to replace every aging water line before it bursts.
“We have to prioritize and adjust as we can,” said Good. “If we know that a line is in bad shape and serves critical customers, we make a priority list and try to get to it. It's a balancing act.”
A 30-inch line under the South Millvale Bridge in Bloomfield burst around 6 a.m. Saturday, sending water cascading on the East Busway and forcing Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh to use tankers as a temporary water supply.
As crews worked on the Bloomfield break, others braved cold weather to fill in a gaping hole in Fort Pitt Boulevard caused by a 12-inch line break Thursday morning. The authority said the hole would be filled Saturday, but a concrete paving base won't be placed until Sunday. A portion of the boulevard by Smithfield Street and Wood Street remained closed Saturday.
Both broken lines were made of cast iron, Good said, which can become brittle and break. He didn't know the exact age of the lines.
A number of factors can lead to line breaks, including temperature changes, the age of the lines, what materials the lines are made of, soil conditions, and even heavy traffic near or over the lines, Good added.
Good said he didn't know how long repairs to the 30-inch line would take, because the rupture exposed a 24-inch line and a gas line, and crews had to secure those lines first.
“We don't expect any additional problems,” Good said.
PWSA spokeswoman Melissa Rubin said a couple dozen customers either didn't have water service or had low water pressure for several hours after the Bloomfield break, though pressure was expected to return to normal by Saturday evening.
Children's Hospital got water back mid-morning, but at lower pressure, UPMC spokesman Chuck Finder said. He said that patient operations and other hospital functions went on uninterrupted.
Water from the break flowed down the Neville Street ramp connecting the East Busway to North Oakland, and the Port Authority had to use a bus shuttle between the Negley and Herron stations.
Good said that many lines in the city are 150 years old, and that replacing all of them could cost billions of dollars. He said in one recent instance, crews working on a sewer line in Oakland noticed that the water line was bad, so it was replaced at the same time.
“It's a question of priority and money,” Good said.
Crews from Pennsylvania American Water also worked on a water main break along Route 51 in Carrick on Saturday, with 10 customers expected to have service restored by late evening, spokesman Gary Lobaugh said.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Legal experts question prosecuting South Fayette boy for recording bullies
- Penguins notebook: Goc skates, tests ailing ankle
- Tea Party flap averted fraud probe by IRS, Justice, emails show
- Peduto says Penguins playoff series will be economic boon
- ‘Godfather’ of runaway salaries for elected officials sentenced in California
- NFL notebook: Judge again rejects league’s $765M concussion deal
- Jailed Hribal ‘fine,’ but family ‘terrible’ as answers in stabbing sought
- Upper St. Clair’s Slowey joins Marlins’ rotation
- Denver wife killed 12 minutes into 911 call, sparking inquiry
- UPMC to city: Go tax our subsidiaries
- Daily Courier roundup: Latrobe edges Connellsville, 4-3