MOUNT GILEAD — Hickory Lane residents were surprised to see village workers digging up the street in 15-degree weather on Saturday morning.
The Mount Gilead Water Department got an early morning call from the street department that a snow plow truck had spotted a stream of water bubbling up from a spot beside the street.
Water was flowing about 50 feet down the snow-covered street.
Water Department Supervisor Kit St. Clair said that the four inch, cast iron water main had a break. The village crew dug down about four feet to find the break and hoped that a simple repair could fix it. A clean stress crack could be repaired with a patch and a wrap, but a long splintering crack would mean that they would need to dig up several feet to find the end of the crack.
St. Clair, who has worked for the water department for 22 years, said they track water main breaks in the village year-round. It isn’t necessarily the cold weather that causes pipes to fracture. He said there are years when there are more breaks in summer months. There was a major break last summer that affected several streets in the village.
However, this winter has brought a string of breaks. St. Clair said it’s the fifth time that they have had to repair a water main in the past two weeks.
Fortunately, it was a stress crack on Hickory Lane and they were able to repair it within a few hours. There was no need to dig further along the street and then depressurize the water main as they would have had to do with a long, splintering crack. If they had depressurized the pipe, residents would have had a warning not to use the water for drinking.
Workers were glad the break was a clean crack and could be wrapped and covered with stones and soil until they pave over it again in warmer weather.
Hickory Lane resident Pat Nesbitt said she was glad she could continue to use her water all day.
At the end of the afternoon, St. Clair and the crew of Brandon McCunn and Fran Foltz had clothes that were stiff with frozen water from their work. But they had the satisfaction of having kept the water flowing on Hickory Lane.