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Published: Wednesday, 6/25/2003

Upgrades help city weather leak surge

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Had an eight-inch water main on Huron Street between Beech and Jackson streets sprung a leak six months ago, the taps in Government Center might have run dry.

But six months ago, the city water division installed a second connection into city hall, as it had done previously for The Blade building across the street.

So when the water began bubbling up through the pavement sometime late Monday or early yesterday, the maintenance staffs of the two buildings had to do no more than reroute their supplies.

That's why, even though two more downtown water leaks were reported yesterday - bringing to five the total since a 30-inch main break that obliterated a major intersection Friday night - nobody in the area was without water, Robert Stevenson, the city's director of public utilities, said.

Besides Huron and Beech, a fresh leak was reported yesterday on Spielbusch Avenue near Cherry Street. Earlier leaks had been reported at Canton Street and Woodruff Avenue, Monroe Street at the Toledo Museum of Art, and St. Clair Street at the Valentine Theatre.

All are directly attributable to pressure changes caused when the rupture at Anthony Wayne Trail and Erie and Lafayette streets forced water to be rerouted downtown, Mr. Stevenson said. “The additional pressure causes any weak spots to fail,” he said.

More leaks are possible.

“The first week after a major break is when it usually happens,” Mr. Stevenson said. “There could be more for the next few days.”

Unlike the big break, which is expected to keep a major traffic access point at the south end of downtown closed until Monday, the lesser leaks should take only a day or so each to fix, Mr. Stevenson said. More work may be required later.

Only the Huron leak required a street closing yesterday, and by evening it was the last of the five still being repaired. The repairs employ clamps that have rubber gaskets to plug the pipes' cracks - a standard practice for water main repairs, Mr. Stevenson said.

“These clamps'll hold for 50 years,” he said.

The pipe on Huron had a smaller leak last year just a few feet away, causing the sidewalk to heave next to The Blade. Mr. Stevenson said the water division schedules replacement for any main that springs repeated leaks. But if the decision is made to replace the Huron main, it won't be done right away, he said.

Clamp-and-gasket repairs cost between $1,000 and $1,200 each, but no estimate has yet been calculated for the major work at Erie, Lafayette, and the Trail. All the work will be paid for from an emergency repair fund the water division maintains, Mr. Stevenson said.

At the Erie-Lafayette-Trail site, the main replacement pipe is in the ground, and some street reconstruction is under way, he said, adding, “That's moving along quite well.”



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