Broken city water main floods peripheral road
A city water main located near Rabb steps burst at 1:30 p.m. Monday, causing a relentless flow of water to travel down the peripheral road and toward the Usen Castle. It took approximately another nine hours for the source of the leak to be discovered.Facilities and city workers were on the scene until after 11 p.m., when enough water had been pumped into nearby storm drains to locate the broken main. The workers dug a gaping hole in the peripheral road and shut off a number of pipes leading into its system, limiting the severity of the leak.
"[City workers] are afraid to continue digging in the dark, and they don't have the necessary parts to fix the main," Head of University Services Mark Collins said Monday night. Collins said there may be a lack of water pressure in North Quad and in some other nearby buildings.
Collins also said that by Tuesday morning, he intended to sand and re-open the part of the peripheral road near the damaged water main, which had been shut off by public safety for most of the day as the flowing water turned to ice.
Public Safety sent a campuswide e-mail early-afternoon Monday. "Due to a break in a water main, we have had to close a portion of the peripheral road," it read. "Traffic will be two-way from the Rabb Steps to the Castle roadway until the matter is resolved."
The main was located about eight-and-a-half feet underground. Upon its discovery, it spewed more than seven feet of water into the air like a geyser. Earlier in the day, there had been some discussion as to whether the mane was 12 or 24 inches wide. By night's end, Collins said he thought it was the latter.
Public Safety originally spotted the leak and notified facilities, which in turn contacted Collins. Collins had just arrived home from Brandeis when he received the call at 2 p.m., prompting him to return to campus.
Collins said when he arrived on scene about 30 minutes later, one of the University's private contractors was assessing the situation to determine that it was indeed a city main that broke and not a pipe or valve belonging to the University.
In addition to several other Brandeis workers monitoring the leak, Director of Facilities Peter Baker was outside with Collins late into the evening.
It took another hour after Collins' arrival for city workers to arrive, he said. In the meantime, his crew put down sand to melt ice that had already formed in the cold weather. They also used mounds of dirt to create a man-made levy to redirect the gushing water into storm drains, something Collins said "greatly helped" the situation.
"In the grand scheme of things, this is a very limited area," Collins said, referring to the hole and where the crew had redirected the water.
Jack Gorman, a Waltham Water and Sewer foreman who was on the scene, said the situation took longer than expected to handle because the three pumps extracting water from the hole frequently broke down for varying periods of time. Gorman also said the broken main leads into South Street, and from there continues into different areas.
"We are hoping it's just cracked around the edges so we can patch it up," Gorman said before the main was found. "If it's broken in half, we will have to replace a part of the pipe, which is more difficult."
The Justice could not confirm whether the main was broken in half or only cracked.
Because the main belonged to the city, Brandeis workers could not operate the machinery used for draining. They could only monitor the situation, though one of the University's pumps was used by the city workers.
Collins said he expected the city to send its workers to campus early this morning to work on the leak and repair the torn-up road.
"It's a difficult situation that hasn't progressed as I would have liked," he said.