Local News

500K Gallons Lost in Chapel Hill Water-Main Break

Posted January 25, 2008
Updated January 26, 2008

— A water-main break in Chapel Hill early Friday left part of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard covered with ice, and closed part of the thoroughfare.

Traffic on the street was limited to one lane northbound and one southbound between Rosemary and Stephens streets. Drivers were asked to take alternate routes.

The break happened around 1 a.m., and water flowed for hours. An estimated 500,000 gallons were lost, Greg Feller, a spokesman for the Orange Water and Sewer Authority.

Repairs to the water main were completed, and water service was restored by 11 p.m. Friday, Feller said. Traffic returned to normal after crews cleared the area.

Police blocked off Martin Luther King Boulevard near North Street. Crews later reopened some lanes, but ice was a concern for part of the morning after the water froze on the road. Crews put down salt and sand to help drivers.


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  • trunkmonkee1971 Jan 25, 2008


  • bushretard Jan 25, 2008

    The water was not lost - it will show up in Jordan Lake in a few days...then Cary can drink it.

  • SaveEnergyMan Jan 25, 2008

    TheWB, for a leak of that side you don't need sensors - the newly created fountain in the road gives it away. Having worked for a time with OWASA and seeing my share of leaks, the problem was probably locating the appropriate valves to shut off the water and getting the crews in - it just takes time.
    As for sensors - that's sci-fi technology that would never last in the ground more than a year or two and would be very expensive.

    NCchick, yep some of the pipes have been in the ground 50-75 years. Some of the pipes are made of iron, which has a good life. Some are made of cement/asbestos - which becomes brittle over time. Maintenance is only done when a pattern of leaks and breaks occur.

    Having worked water leaks, I don't envy the guys on that call. It's tough work in the cold.

  • whatusay Jan 25, 2008

    Too bad these pipes never seemed to burst when we had plenty of water. Too bad there are no pressure valves to shut the water off when pressure drops dramaticly. Might be something to look at so taxes can be raised again.

  • tarheelalum Jan 25, 2008

    Had to drive through it this morning...a mess!

  • BIGCHEESECAMATO Jan 25, 2008

    Now I guess the City Democrats just used up their 35 gallons of water each day for the next month or so.......

  • Chili Jan 25, 2008

    Neglect. Pipes are old all across the country. Our country has a crumbling infrastructure.

  • Lissa13082 Jan 25, 2008

    What's with all these water mains breaking all of a sudden? Of course it happens when we are in the middle of a drought! It seems like they've been one right after another for the past couple of weeks!

  • TheWB Jan 25, 2008

    "The break happened around 1 a.m., and water flowed for hours. There was no word on how many gallons leaked."

    This is 2008, you'd think in this day and age they would have some type of pressure loss sensors to alarm the public works of a leak of this magnitude.