Public works employees were busy last Wednesday morning repairing a burst pipe on Spokane St.
Public works received a call the previous Thursday night letting them know that water was bubbling out of the road and flowing down the hill. The old steel pipe was temporarily patched until it could be replaced on Wednesday with a new PVC pipe.
But workers quickly discovered a new problem when they tried to turn the water off.
“When we went to shut it down, the valves down below did not work,” explained Darrin Albo, manager of public works.
The old valve also sprang a leak when they tried to use it, so that too needed to be replaced Wednesday morning.
Water on Spokane St. between Second Ave. and Columbia Ave. and in the surrounding area had to be shut down during the day so the repairs could be made.
Mayor Kathy Moore came out to observe some of the work and to ask workers questions.
“This is the situation pretty much everywhere underground in town, so this is why we have these huge infrastructure issues, and this is why we’re doing the entire length of Washington St.,” she said, “because that’s our main water main and sewer main. It’s really important pipes that are there and we need to get those repaired because they are in just as bad a shape as what we’re looking at here on Spokane.”
Alb0 said the whole stretch of pipe on Spokane needs to be replaced.
“The whole line coming down Spokane, where the initial leak started, we find it to be extremely thin and basically rotten,” he said. “So it has been on our five-year capital replacement program, and so this is just going to move it up a little bit more as far as ranking.”
Albo estimates that the steel line dates back to somewhere around 1930.
“I know people find it hard to believe how much it costs to replace underground utilities when you see it’s roughly $500,000 per block,” he said, “and when you start seeing what we see everyday — this kind of infrastructure — people have a better understanding why we need to continue on with the asset management replacement program and get this work done.”