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UPDATE -- TRAFFIC ADVISORY 12/12/13: Water Main Break Repair Completed on SW Vista Avenue; Service to Ainsworth Elementary and Affected Customers Restored

By Lindsay Wochnick

Crews replace an eight foot section of damaged pipeA Portland Water Bureau crew completed repairs on a broken water main on SW Vista Avenue between SW Elm Street and SW Spring Street and restored water service to affected residents and Ainsworth Elementary School today just after 12:00 noon. 

Crews are preparing the site for restoration and detours will be lifted this afternoon.

The Water Bureau was notified of the main break at approximately midnight. The Water Bureau’s Urgent Response personnel responded immediately to the site and partially closed valves to reduce the flow of water through the main, limiting any potential damage the water could cause. The area was blocked off for safety and traffic re-routed while a complete crew was called in from their homes. Other utilities were contacted, including PGE and NW Natural Gas, to ensure that excavating the break area in the street would not damage other services or endanger bureau staff or the public.  The repair crew arrived on site at approximately 2:00 am.

Just after 5:15 am this morning, the Water Bureau crew successfully excavated and exposed the break, which revealed that the 8-inch cast iron main—which was installed in 1927— had broken vertically and also horizontally down the length of the pipe.  The nature of the break and its repair required a shutdown of the main, and a temporary loss of water service to nearby customers, including Ainsworth Elementary School. 

After notifying affected customers and shutting off their water service at each meter in the shutdown area, the crew cut out and replaced an 8-foot section of damaged pipe,  backfilled the excavation with several dump truck loads of rock, thoroughly flushed the affected main and then restored service to affected customers by 12:15 pm today.

The Water Bureau crew will prepare the backfilled excavation to be safe for traffic until a Portland Bureau of Transportation crew can complete the restoration of the street.

Customers in the immediate area are encouraged to flush taps as a precaution.

During this winter weather, Water Bureau crews have responded to hundreds of calls for service.  Crews, including the one that responded to this morning’s main break, are ready to respond 24-hours a day, seven days a week to water emergencies. 

If customers do experience water quality or pressure issues, contact the Water Quality Line at 503-823-7525. To report a main break or other water-related emergency, please notify the Water Bureau’s 24/7 emergency hotline at 503-823-4874.


TRAFFIC ADVISORY 12/12/13: Water Main Break Closes SW Vista Avenue Between SW Elm Street and SW Spring Street


Portland Water Bureau crews have responded to a main break on SW Vista Avenue between SW Elm Street and SW Spring Street.  

Just after midnight, an eight-inch cast iron main installed in 1927 ruptured causing water to flow into the street. At this time, water to the broken pipe has been shutdown.

No flooding damage has been reported. However, water pressure is affected in the immediate area. 

SW Vista Avenue, a residential street, between SW Elm Street and SW Spring Street is closed except to local residents. Traffic will be detoured around the work zone. Due to the water main break, Ainsworth Elementary School, located at 2425 SW Vista Avenue, will be closed Thursday, December 12, 2013.

Crews will be on-scene until work is completed.

The Water Bureau's Maintenance & Construction crews are called out at all hours day and night to repair broken water mains, an average of 200 times a year.

In Portland, cast iron water mains tend to break during the colder times of the year.  Cold water can cause pipes to become more brittle.  Adding cold air temperatures at or below freezing can cause the ground above a pipe to freeze, thereby increasing external stress on a pipe. Temperature can be just one factor in causing a main break; the age of the pipe, soil conditions, pipe corrosion and ground movement can cause a main to weaken over time and break.

Lindsay Wochnick
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