ANDERSON, Ind. —
Call it the perfect water leak.
Or, “a classic case of infrastructure decay,” which is how Water Department Superintendent Tom Brewer describes what has consumed the attention of top city officials since Wednesday morning.
That’s when an Anderson Power and Light Company employee working at the Wheeler Avenue substation saw water bubbling up from the ground between the substation and White River.
He notified the water department, which brought in excavating equipment and began digging to investigate.
What they found initially was bad enough.
A World War II-era, 24-inch concrete main that feeds raw water from eight city wells — and supplies about 50 percent of Anderson’s daily water needs — through the Wheeler Street Water Treatment Plant had failed. Underneath that supply line is an equally large distribution line that carries treated, or finished, water out to customers.
It, too, was leaking, “and that immediately doubled our problem,” said Deputy Mayor Pete Heuer.
At the highest rate, before engineers and construction workers could stanch the flow, each leak was sending 2,000 gallons of water per hour cascading into the White River.
Which created another serious problem.
Dropping water pressure.
Maintaining proper water pressure is vital to ensuring a safe water supply, Brewer said. Water pressure is what prevents bacteria and other contaminants from infiltrating the water system.
The water pressure in Anderson’s system normally is 60 pounds per square inch. But with the two leaks, the department was not able to maintain that pressure.
“We were facing a nightmare,” Brewer said Thursday. A possible citywide boil order if the pressure fell too low, and the shutdown of manufacturing options at the water department’s largest customer, Nestlé USA, which uses between 2.5 and 2.7 million gallons each day.
Through the early morning Thursday, city officials kept Nestlé plant managers updated on the leak, said Interim Economic Development Director Greg Winkler. The company agreed to reduce the number of production lines in operation.
“We want to help preserve water resources for the community and have temporarily reduced production in our plant facility as the city of Anderson works to repair the leaks in the water line,” Nestlé spokeswoman Shannon King said in a prepared statement. “We are currently running only two of six lines. We hope this situation can be resolved as quickly and safely as possible, as we are concerned about the impact this will have on our business as well as the community.”
At the same time, a backhoe was used to hold a temporary patch in place on one of the leaks that cut the flow in half.
Together, those actions helped stabilize the water pressure at about 50 pounds per square inch, more than enough to maintain a safe water supply.
And buy time.
Fortunately, two engineering firms, American Structurepoint of Indianapolis, and M K Betts Engineering & Contracting of Anderson were already “assets on the ground” working on an expansion of Anderson’s wastewater treatment plant, Winkler said.
Both companies immediately offered help in repairing the leaks. They were joined by F.A. Wilhelm Construction, an Indianapolis firm also working on the treatment plant construction.
Pipes, pumps and valves will need to be replaced. And reaching the areas where excavation will be necessary, required clearing away brush and debris first.
In addition, because of the substation’s location, underground and above-ground power lines crisscross the areas where crews will be working.
“This is a really complex project, even for these companies that are experienced with this kind of work,” said Mayor Kevin Smith while visiting the site of the leak Thursday.
Brewer said it may take several days to complete the repairs.
While dealing with the first leak Thursday, utility crews repaired a second, although less serious, broken water main.
The second break occurred in a 4-inch line on Nursery road between eights and Sixth Streets, about 10:30 a.m. That break sent water gushing through the yards of neighborhood houses and took about two hours to repair.
Find Stu Hirsch on Facebook and @StuHirsch on Twitter, or call 640-4861.
Officials say old pipes failed
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Call it the perfect water leak.
- Local News
Highland staff, students donate more than $1,500 to help classmate's family
Despite being a fresh face in the halls, students and staff honored Suncerria's memory this week raising more than $1,500 in cash donations and $300 in gift cards as well as a food basket to support her family through their grief.
- Mother charged with possessing a gun at school enrolls child elsewhere Bonnie Trahan says her first priority is her son after incident that led to her facing charges of possessing a handgun on school property.
Work begins on new Ivy Tech facility
Motorists driving on East 60th Street near Columbus Avenue will notice heavy machinery working in preparation for a new educational facility in Anderson.
- Many schools see increases in IREAD scores More Madison County schools reported preliminary IREAD-3 test results Friday and, for the most part, officials were pleased with the results.
- Ivy Tech extends deadline for ASAP Ivy tech Community College is extending the application deadline for a special program that allows students to earn an associate degree in 11 months.
- Arabians win County net title with 5-0 shutout An intriguing battle awaited and there was no indication what the team scores would be. Considering the Frankton Eagles had home court advantage, the Pendleton Heights Lady Arabians came hungry for the Madison County tennis title. Pendleton aced a 5-0 win and came away with the crown.
- Arrest Log: April 19 Arrests made by Madison County law enforcement on Thursday and Friday, based on Madison County Jail records.
- Local Briefs: April 19 A compilation of news items of local and statewide interest as published in the Saturday edition of The Herald Bulletin.
- Heating assistance provided to 4,445 households Almost 5,000 households in Madison and Grant counties received assistance this past winter with their heating bills, members of the Central Indiana Community Action Program learned this week.
Geater Center celebrates remodeling of facility
The Geater Community Center held an open house Thursday afternoon to celebrate their remodeled facility and new gym floor.
- More Local News Headlines
- Highland staff, students donate more than $1,500 to help classmate's family