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Water service restored after line break in Joppatowne Thursday

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Harford County crews have restored water service to five Joppatowne homes that were without water for five hours Thursday afternoon and evening, following a water main break, as temperatures dipped into the 20s.

About 45 homes in the neighborhood around the intersection of Trimble Road and Garnett Road were affected with either a loss of service completely or reduced water pressure.

The break occurred after workers with a contractor hired to restore the nearby Foster Branch stream struck a water main encased in concrete in the stream bed of a small tributary of Foster Branch.

Harford County government officials reported Friday morning that the water had been turned off around 3:30 p.m. and restored around 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

The damage was reported around 2 p.m. Thursday as workers with Ecotone, Inc., of Forest Hill, were working in a stream bed running parallel to Foster Branch, George Dawson, Harford County assistant superintendent for water and sewer maintenance, said at the scene.

Dawson said the pipe, 8 inches in diameter, runs parallel to Trimble Road and perpendicular to Foster Branch.

Crews with the county's Division of Water & Sewer worked into Thursday evening to repair the damage and restore service.

Sherrie Johnson, spokeswoman for Harford County government, said Thursday evening that crews were installing a valve to "isolate the water line closer to the point of the break," since the damaged portion was in the stream and "encased" in concrete.

She stated in a follow-up e-mail Friday that crews "cut and capped" the line "with a blind flange in lieu of a valve."

"This provided a much faster repair and service was  back in 5 hours," Johnson continued.

She stated that crews had determined that the line was 8 feet underground in the area they were working in while preparing to install the valve, and also had to avoid electric and gas lines in the area.

Johnson said workers took pressure readings around the point where the line had broken and at two Joppatowne-area schools.

The readings showed water pressures of more than 60 psi, what Johnson called "good working pressures."

The county board of estimates awarded a $375,692.59 contract to Ecotone in October to restore 1,200 to 1,500 linear feet of Foster Branch.

Richard Berkey, project superintendent with Ecotone, said Thursday that the area had been surveyed for utility lines by Miss Utility before the stream restoration began, and the water line had been marked, although markers had not been placed in the part of the stream channel where workers were.

He said workers were removing exposed concrete from the stream bed in order to build a "plunge pool," but plans provided by the county did not show the water line that was encased in the concrete.

Berkey said water began bubbling out of the stream when the line was hit.

"We stopped work immediately," he said.

Ecotone workers contacted county inspectors who then contacted Water & Sewer staff.

Berkey said Thursday was the first day of restoration work in the stream; workers spent the previous two weeks clearing nearby trees.

He said workers had started at the top of the stream Thursday and would be back at work at the bottom of the stream Friday.

Berkey said the restoration efforts will reduce erosion of the stream channel by allowing floodwaters to flow naturally into the surrounding floodplain.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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