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Weather hampers water main repair



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Independence Township DPW contractors work to repair a leaking 12-inch water main on White Lake Road near the railroad tracks. Photo by Andrea Beaudoin (click for larger version)
January 15, 2014 - Recent winter weather meant slow going for workers trying to fix a leaking 12-inch water main on White Lake Road near the railroad tracks.

"It's tough digging out there now, so it's going slow," said Independence Township DPW Director Linda Richardson.

A passerby reported the break last Tuesday, Jan. 7, and DPW workers visited the area and checked blueprints for the location and depth of the pipe.

When crews arrived, they dug down into the earth, but could not locate the exact area of the leak. They saw the water bubbling though, and when a train went by, three more areas started bubbling up.

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The repair job was too large for the DPW to fix, so DPW hired a local contractor, Richardson said.

"We always find local contractors when we have a job like this," she said. "We are just not equipped for something this large. We don't have the proper equipment."

They shut off water service to businesses nearby pending repair. On Friday, contractors had yet to locate the exact area of the leak, and shutting down White Lake Road was a possibility because crews may have to cut open the road to find and fix the leak.

Richardson said special material for the repair also had to be acquired as well as road closure signs in case the road had to be shut down. In order to avoid a large leak, the water remained off until the fix was completed.

Richardson said the same area was repaired five or six years ago when the pipe blew apart.

"We have a relatively new system," she said. "We just recently dug up a 60-year-old pipe and it was in relatively good shape and almost looked brand new. We must have good soil in the township."

Cold winter months can cause more pipes to burst because of expansion, but Richardson said there has not been many water main breaks in the township this year.

Some developments in the community have older pipes from the 1950's, but most of the system is newer and many of the pipes are composed of ductile iron, a very strong material that does not break as often as other materials, she said.

The leaking main on White Lake Road is also composed of ductile iron.

Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.
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