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Broken Albemarle County Water Main Fixed

By: Althea Paul
By: Althea Paul

January 9, 2006

A water main break in Albemarle County has been fixed after drivers saw a soggy start to the work week. Earlier today the road along Rt. 29 near Woodbrook looked like it was turning into a river as gallons of water gushed out of the break. I

The main has since dried up, but not before causing some trouble for drivers, and even more of a headache for water crews. It spewed about 100,000 gallons of water on the roadway.

"There's quite a bit of water crossing the road," said Albemarle County police officer, Robert McCormick.

About 6-8 inches in fact. A broken water main was the reason for a watery scene along Route 29 near Woodbrook Drive Monday. Officials say a corroded galvanized pipe was the reason. To make matters worse, crews were having a hard time turning it off.

The valve has been in service since the early sixties at least, and it's hard to close," said water operations manager for the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority, Richard Defibaugh. "[If a] valve sits in a pipeline for a long time, the sides of it corrode. It doesn't go up and down very good. It's causing us a lot of trouble closing it."

Afraid to break the old valve, crews had to work very carefully.

"We have to turn a few turns, and then open it back up, then turn a few turns more," added Defibaugh.

All that water gushing out and spilling onto the roads made for a potentially dangerous situation for drivers. Fears of vehicles hydroplaning and losing control prompted some serious warnings.

"Forty-five miles an hour is too fast to be traveling through this water. There's 6-8 inches of water flowing across the highway. So we're just trying to slow them down a little bit to prevent an accident," said Officer McCormick.

Officials believe the break may have left a few businesses and residents with low water pressure. However they say with pipes and valves that are decades old, breaks are common.

Officials add that throughout the whole ordeal, the water in homes and businesses affected was still safe to drink.


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