2011 leaks away with big water line break
The new year started with a bang, literally, in Rockdale as a three-foot section of a major water distribution line blew out Saturday afternoon, leaving much of the city without water service for several hours.
City crews worked overnight— ironically from 2011 into 2012—to repair the break on North Rice Street, but water service was restored Saturday evening as water from Southwest Milam Water Supply Corporation was diverted into city lines.
“We appreciate the help from Southwest Milam in getting service back to our city customers as quickly as possible,” City Manager Kelvin Knauf said.
BOIL WATER—Because the pressure in Rockdale water lines had dropped below 20 pounds per square inch, an automatic “boil water” alert was triggered Saturday by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
It was rescinded Monday after state tests for harmful bacteria in the water came back negative.
“A boil water alert does not automatically mean there’s anything harmful in the water,” Knauf said. “It’s something that goes into effect because of low water pressure.”
GEYSER—The blowout was reported about 2 p.m. Saturday and crews arrived on Rice Street to find a “geyser” of water erupting from a 12-inch transmis- sion line which links the Texas Street well with the Allday Street tower across town.
The break was adjacent to a Ham Branch tributary, and water was channelled into that drainage.
Puzzled motorists in Central Rockdale Saturday afternoon were treated to the site of Ham Branch running banks-full even though no rain had fallen in five days.
CLAMPS—Knauf said crews worked through the night of New Year’s Eve, putting clamps on the ruptured line and then installing a new section of pipe.
“ They finished about 2 p.m. Sunday, New Year’s Day,” Knauf said.
All that remained was for state testing to be completed on Rockdale water samples. Those came back clear Monday and the boil water alert was lifted.
Knauf said the combination of shifting soil and the old water line was blamed for the rupture.
This summer’s drought, which accelerates shifting soil, has been blamed for hundreds of water line breaks across Texas, including major problems in Austin and Fort Worth.
“Our crews did a tremendous job under emergency conditions on a holiday weekend,” Knauf said.