, Gloucester, MA

May 15, 2013

Bad valve spurs water shutoff around Commercial Street

By James Niedzinski
Staff Writer

---- — GLOUCESTER — A broken gate valve in a downtown water main Tuesday afternoon forced city officials to shut down water service along Main Street from Washington to Hancock streets for more than three hours Tuesday night.

And the valve break caused left residents and businesses along Commercial Street and Beach Court without water at various times Tuesday afternoon, and into Tuesday night.

Department of Public Works director Mike Hale said the problem was found as a part of the larger construction at Tally’s Corner, the intersection of Main, Washington and Commercial streets.

Hale said that valves are commonly replaced, but he could not readily give the exact cost of the part since the cost may vary.

The infrastructure work along the intersection at Main, Washington and Rogers was scheduled maintenance, but the discovery of a broken water valve that shut off water to dozens of customers was not.

Water service to sections of Main Street were restored shortly after 8 p.m., but crews expected flushing – and the roily water that accompanies it – to continue into late Tuesday night. And Commercial Street remained without water service as of 8:30 p.m.

The broken water gate valve was first reported around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Department of Public Works director Mike Hale estimated.

Hale noted the infrastructure at the intersection is an odd one, with the connections from Washington, Main, Rogers and Commercial Streets are a complex network.

Yet the temporary shutdown had one business owner worried.

“I’m nervous, I’m a food guy,” said Monte Rome, owner of Intershell Seafood Corp. on Commercial Street.

Thankfully, the business had just about finished up the day as of Tuesday afternoon, when the water was shut off, but the plant could not be sanitized at the end of the day without water.

Hale also said the valve was broken in the completely off position, in most instances a valve is broken halfway between on and off.

While some of the work was scheduled,the incident meant that officials had to address the problem sooner rather than later once they realized water was not reaching part of the city.

“It forced our hand to take care of the problem now,” Hale said.

James Niedzinski can be reached at 978-283-7000, x 3455 or at