Water main break blamed on old pipe


BRATTLEBORO — At just past midnight on Tuesday, the Brattleboro Department of Public Works was alerted by a high-flow warning alarm somewhere along Western Avenue. Such an alarm, said Steve Barrett, director of DPW, usually means one of the town's water mains has broken.

"My crew went out searching for the possible leak but didn't see anything right away," said Barrett. The area of the suspected break is near a wetlands so the water was infiltrating under the road. "Shortly after our arrival, the water began percolating up around the road."

At just before 5 a.m., DPW staffers had the leak under control. At 2 p.m., Barrett said the break occurred at a 20-year-old coupling connecting a fire hydrant to the 16-inch water line.

Homes in Edward Heights and Lawton Drive were without water until about 5 p.m. Tuesday, said Barrett.

As with any situation where the water is turned off for a while, "When the water is turned back on, they may experience discolored water coming out of their taps," he said. People should let the water run until it clears up, he said.

Barrett said the town had lost about 1.2 million gallons of culinary water, or 4,000 gallons a minute. "We lost quite a bit of water, which is a little unusual. We haven't had a loss like this in quite a while."

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Barrett said two 16-inch lines run under Route 9 at this point.

At this time of the year, a freeze occasionally damages the town's water pipes, but Barrett said that doesn't appear to be the cause here.

"This pipe was put in in the early 1900s," he said. "I imagine the break is just due to age."

DPW assigned five staff members to repair the line, who spent about 20 hours on site.

"This is a real dedicated crew; a younger crew with not as much experience," he said. "We lost quite a bit of experience in the last couple of years, but these guys really stepped up to the plate. They are high-quality water service people."

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.


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