by David Croyle
A main water line in Rayburn Township erupted yesterday causing businesses and nearly 200 residents to be without water yesterday afternoon.
The outage affected the Armsdale Administration Building, the Armstrong County Jail, and customers in Sunnyside and Poverty Hill Road beginning at 2:45 PM.
According to Roger Toy, Acting Manager for the Manor Township Joint Municipal Authority, the broken line was located off of Route 85 behind Crytzer Equipment Company.
“We saw the level in the tank begin to drop,” Toy said. “Usually if the tank level drops and no customers call, there is a problem in the woods somewhere. So this is one of the first places we check.”
Toy said the area is a marshy wet field near the Armsdale property. Due to the wet saturated ground, his crew was unable to use their own backhoe to dig up the line.
“We had to get a backhoe that was on tracks rather than wheels,” Toy said. “We called several excavators but no one was available. Finally we were able to get a hold of Zubik Excavating and they brought their machine out.”
Toy said that although the area is a swamp, there is a hard rock bottom beneath the soil. “We had a rock under the line and there was a high point touching the line. The ground was saturated and it shifted. The rock punctured a hole about the size of my fist in the bottom of a 12-inch cast iron pipe. It was probably leaking for awhile. Then the line cracked the whole way around and split about 8 foot.”
Toy and two other laborers worked into the evening cutting out the bad section of pipe and replacing it with a newer plastic line.
The rest of the pipe looked good,” Toy said after examining it. “Usually if you have a problem with deterioration, there is a gas line nearby and electrolysis will eat through the pipe. But that is not the case here. It was the rocks under it. It didn’t freeze too much this winter. Once you move snow away from the grass, it was pretty well thawed out. It was just from the ground shifting from water saturation.”
Within an hour following the outage, Armstrong County HazMat Coordinator Vincent Cappo arranged for water storage tanks holding 325 gallons each to be delivered to the jail and to Erdley’s critical care facility. “We also put one in the parking lot of the jail in case local residents needed to use it to fill their personal containers,” Cappo said. Rayburn Township Fire Department was in charge of maintaining and filling the storage tanks.
Toy said the water line was put back into service at 7:45 PM, but residents would not have full water pressure until sometime in the middle of the night.
“We have to fill the line slowly so there is not a big burst of pressure that tends to build up,” Toy said. “We also had someone flushing hydrants, making sure dirt is out of the line. We have to open higher spots of the line and make sure the air is out of it. Then we go to end of line and make sure we have water flowing.”
In the middle of the repair, Toy was summoned to another emergency. “While I was doing this, 911 called me about a house in East Kittanning. The pressure regulator valve blew out. I had to go up there and shut the water off. They told me water was blowing out on the road. It was a trailer. It was going in the back yard.” Toy said the water will remain off at that residence until later today when the owner fixes the valve.