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Old water main breaks in middle of Harrisburg

  • A look at the scene of the Poplar Street water main break Sunday afternoon.

    A look at the scene of the Poplar Street water main break Sunday afternoon.
    Brett Pinkerton photo

  • The water main break on Poplar Street Sunday afternoon in Harrisburg required digging through pavement and the underlying brick street to reach the break.

    The water main break on Poplar Street Sunday afternoon in Harrisburg required digging through pavement and the underlying brick street to reach the break.
    Brett Pinkerton photo

 
By Travis DeNeal tdeneal@dailyregister.com
updated: 6/19/2018 3:10 PM

HARRISBURG -- A break in a water main that is at least 80 years old made for a busy Sunday afternoon and evening for Harrisburg's water department.

Water and Sewer Superintendent Kelly Hefner said the break was in a water main on Poplar Street near Mill Street.

The particular water main under Poplar Street predates World War II.

"It was put in before the brick street above it was installed, so that would make it at least 80 years old," Hefner said.

Each year, the city has worked to restore aging water lines according to the condition of the mains, the frequency of breaks and funding availability.

He said his department had the break fixed by about 9 p.m. Sunday.

"The worst part is, once a break is detected, it's about a two-hour wait for JULIE before we can dig," Hefner said.

State law requires anyone preparing to excavate to call a state hotline, which then notifies utility companies who may have buried lines in the area to be dug. Workers from those utilities then must mark their lines in an effort to avoid damage to them when the excavation occurs.

Hefner said in the case of a water main break, the job isn't finished until the leak is fixed.

"We don't leave until the water's back on," he said.

He said these kinds of breaks happen in extreme weather -- either the dead of winter or the middle of summer.

"It probably happens more than people realize," Hefner added.

The city blocked traffic in a one-block area around the break until it was fixed, and Saline County issued a Nixle alert to inform people potentially traveling through the area.