A report from Terry Doloughty:
On Monday evening a crew was repairing a large hole in an 8″ water line under Bigelow Boulevard just past the island at Herron Avenue. Paulowna and 30th streets had to be completely drained for the repairs to be made.
Significant corrosion was visible in the water line and the connections. The water line was laid in a bed of old mill slag, a common practice from years ago. The dielectric reaction between metals and the corrosive nature of the slag are the reason we are having these repetitive breaks. Most of the water lines in the City were installed in this manner.
Chester Engineering was given the contract to repair the line as the job was a bit too big for a regular PWSA crew. The crew will try to pinpoint any other leaks that may be contributing to the water running down Phelan Way. Next, a fluoride test will be performed on the Phelan Way water to determine if it’s treated or spring water. It’s believed that the flow is mostly from a natural spring overwhelmed by all the snow melt and extremely high water in the abandoned mines of the Hill District.
In the meantime, if you are one of the homes affected by shut-offs for these repairs, here’s a tip for dealing with the sediment, rust, and debris that will be coming through the lines as water flows in the pipes again. You can stop this material from clogging your faucet aerator and shower heads. Pick the lowest utility fixture in your home or building. In most cases this will be the laundry tray or an outside hose valve. Open the valve and allow this valve to run, make sure the water is clear. If the water is clouded or rust colored allow the water to run until clear.
Toilet fill valves will also be affected by debris. If rust or debris make it to the fill valve in you toilet it may not be able to shut off properly. Clearing the water line debris by allowing another fixture to run will prevent the toilet fill valve from malfunctioning.
(in the photo above, water coming out of the hillside runs alongside Maeder’s building on Phelan Way)