GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

February 21, 2013

Twin water breaks hit Atlantic Street

By Marjorie Nesin
Staff Writer

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Residents of Atlantic Street and the surrounding neighborhoods in West Gloucester saw reduced water flow, at various degrees, between Tuesday morning and early Wednesday morning, after an area water main burst, was repaired, then sprung a leak again farther down the line.

”As they brought the pipe back to pressure, a bit further down stream from the initial break, a second break occurred,” city Public Works Director Mike Hale said Wednesday.
Hale and crews had expected the problems to be alleviated by 5 p.m. Tuesday when they finished work on the initial break, but the repair on the second break was not complete until about 3 a.m. Wednesday. 
In the meantime, residents reported discolored water, low pressure — and for some houses, located at high elevation, it seemed like the pipes were empty, Hale said.
”There were some higher elevation homes, where volume was so low that it felt like they were completely without water from yesterday morning to 3 a.m.,” Hale said.
Suzanne Altenburger, a waterfront activist who happens to live on Atlantic Street, said Wednesday she lost water temporarily, but felt the city deserved congratulations for its quick and productive efforts in the repair.
”I’m living on the bottom of the hill so I still had water coming my way for hours,” Altenburger said. “But people on the hill they lost water for a longer period. I was very pleased they got it fixed. It was not a good day to work outside ... but kudos to them. They did well.”
Though the problem has now been remedied for more than 24 hours, Hale said, people may still notice discolored water. While the discolored water is typically safe to drink, Hale suggests homeowners and tenants flush out their water and purge their water systems to address the issues.
“Discolored water is more of an aesthetic issue than a health issue,” Hale said. “A little bit of purging of your own system will really address this.”
Water main breaks are common during the winter months because frost settles low in the ground, according to Hale. And, though the water mains in the Atlantic Street area are newer than much of the city’s water infrastructure, Hale said, the city has been looking to upgrade whenever possible.
”The distribution system is aged,” Hale said, “and we’re on a push to replace as much of it as possible.” 
Marjorie Nesin can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3451, or at mnesin@gloucestertimes.com.