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Allegheny's warmth likely cause of Harrison water line breaks

Mary Ann Thomas
| Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016, 11:03 a.m.
The Harrison Township Water Authority employees use a saw to cut through a cast iron pipe while fixing a waterline break on Pleasantville Road in Harrison on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. The 12-inch line was the third major break in 12 hours in the township, closing the road for most of the day.
Eric Felack | Tribune-Review
The Harrison Township Water Authority employees use a saw to cut through a cast iron pipe while fixing a waterline break on Pleasantville Road in Harrison on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. The 12-inch line was the third major break in 12 hours in the township, closing the road for most of the day.
Harrison Township Water Authority employees work to fix a waterline break on Pleasantville Road in Harrison on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. The 12-inch line was the third major break in 12 hours in the township, closing the road for most of the day.
Eric Felack | Tribune-Review
Harrison Township Water Authority employees work to fix a waterline break on Pleasantville Road in Harrison on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. The 12-inch line was the third major break in 12 hours in the township, closing the road for most of the day.

The monthlong hot weather has heated up the Allegheny River, resulting in water main breaks in Harrison, according to the township's water authority.

Chuck Craig, the authority's general manager, said Harrison has had three major water main breaks since Monday evening.

An estimated 40 households were without water from Monday evening into Tuesday. Other customers have seen brown water in their homes, but there is no recommendation to boil it.

Craig said the likely culprit of the spate of breaks is warm water. The Allegheny's water temperature was 82 degrees Tuesday at the authority's intake just upstream of the Natrona lock and dam, according to Craig.

“The water temperature has increased over the last week because of all of the warm weather,” he said. The water heats further after treatment as it sits in the authority's three above-ground holding tanks.

The first break occurred at Route 908 and Freeport Road about 6:30 p.m. Monday. It was repaired by 2:30 a.m. Tuesday. The second break, along Alter Road, was repaired by 5 a.m.

The third break, along Pleasantville Road, occurred Tuesday morning. That break was fixed by late afternoon.

The Pleasantville Road break affected Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison, but there was only a temporary loss of water pressure, said Linda Dalak-McCardle, hospital spokeswoman. The water ran brown, but hospital personnel opened faucets until the water cleared.

“The crew is working hard to keep everyone in water,” Craig said.

Although waterline breaks are frequent in frigid weather, they also occur in hot weather.

“Extreme weather has impact,” said John Schombert, executive director of 3 Rivers Wet Weather and chairman of the board of the Coraopolis Water and Sewer Authority.

During hot weather, water pipes expand. There are other contributing factors, such as people using more water, Schombert said.

But waterline breaks occur because of an accumulation of issues over years, mostly thanks to aging pipes.

“A lot has to do with the material in the pipes and conditions that can cause corrosion,” he said.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or mthomas@tribweb.com.

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