water main

Public Works Supt. Wallace Tomlinson and Jason Douglas went for a swim last week while trying to locate a broken water main.

PCHS, PCMS released early due to water shut off during pipe replacement Tuesday

It was every student’s dream – an unexpected early release from school.

A water main break on County Farm Road last Tuesday morning resulted in early release for middle and high school students and a temporary road closure while city public works employees attempted to find the break and get it repaired.

City employees waded through waist deep water to find the break, a nearly 8-footlong crack in a 10” pipe. The crew replaced approximately 12 feet of pipe before water service could be restored Tuesday evening.

Public Works Superintendent Wallace Tomlinson suspects a lightning strike is to blame for the damage and says it was the biggest break he’d dealt with in his eight years at the city.

“Lightning would be my guess, probably in the little storm we had (last) Sunday ... A break in the bottom of a pipe like that would be contributed to something making the ground move, which would be lightning,” Tomlinson says. “That’s the biggest break I’ve had.”

The break wasn’t noticeable until Tuesday morning after the water table from the rain dropped enough that the water could be seen bubbling up.

Not one to stand by and supervise, Tomlinson waded out in the ditch behind United Market to locate the break.

Schools released at 12:45 p.m. after water was cut off to both the middle and high school campuses as a result of the break.

“We tried to keep water to the school the whole time, but as we were down there working on it, it kept popping and breaking,” Tomlinson says.

Average water pressure through a 10” pipe should be 45-47 psi, but he estimates it was flowing at 52 psi before they cut off the water.

It took more than five hours to fix the break. County Farm Road reopened at 6:30 p.m., and schools resumed their normal schedule Wednesday.

“It was more of a messy repair. It wasn’t that expensive,” Tomlinson says.