Water service interrupted

A portion of South Seventh Street was reduced to one lane of traffic for a few hours Wednesday while crews looked for a valve to shut off water to a 6-inch main that developed a leak last Friday afternoon.

“Around 3 p.m. Friday we heard there was water running in the roadway along Ephraim Cutler Street. The 6-inch water main had cracked, and the pressure was so great that it was lifting up some of the asphalt just across the street from the McDonald’s restaurant,” said Jeff Kephart, Marietta’s water superintendent.

He said workers dug up that portion of the street and found the water main, but the crew couldn’t locate a nearby valve to reduce the water pressure while a clamp was installed.

“We finally clamped the pipe, but had to use a spud bar to hold the clamp in place while it was installed -water was spraying everywhere,” Kephart said.

Because the water could not be shut off, McDonald’s and other businesses in the Frontier Shopping Center, as well as Ridgewood Court Apartments, did not experience any service interruption.

“We didn’t notice any problem and we weren’t without water at all on Friday,” said McDonald’s owner Laurie Strahler.

Kephart said on Wednesday morning traffic was limited to one northbound lane on Seventh Street for a couple of hours while crews traced the water main from the break back along Ephraim Cutler to South Seventh Street where they eventually located the shutoff valve.

“We found it buried under two or three layers of blacktop,” he said.

Water crews hope to close the valve and stop or reduce water pressure on the main line so that the clamp installed last week can be removed and the cracked portion of pipe cleaned off.

“The pipe surface has to be as smooth as a baby’s bottom for the rubber seal on the clamp to fit properly for a more permanent fix,” Kephart said. “If the break was a split pipe instead of just a crack, we would have had to cut out that section and replace the pipe.”

He said at 2 p.m. Friday water service will be interrupted to customers on Clifton Street, Ephraim Cutler Street, businesses in the Frontier Shopping Center, including Subway, Giant Eagle, Tractor Supply and Ridgewood Court Apartments.

“We want to make a permanent repair on the line at that time. We’re hoping it will take an hour or less,” Kephart added.

Jarrod Schultheisz, project manager with the city engineering department, said aging water lines are an ongoing issue for the city.

“The water department’s call-out hours are substantial because of water line breaks,” he said. “Many of our water lines are pretty old. Last year we were experiencing break after break in the lines along Glendale Road, and the repairs were costing so much it made more sense to just replace the entire line.”

The city has approximately 87 miles of underground water main. Some in the downtown area are more than a century old.

Kephart has said the city would like to replace at least a mile of water line every year.