Town water leaks persist, uncovering valve & pressure troubles

by Geoff Fox

Three public water system leaks on Saturday, July 24 had officials and Public Works busy for a number of hours.

The problems started about 7 a.m. and wrapped up around 4:30 p.m., Mayor Tim Smith said.

He said town crews couldn’t find the shut off valves for the water lines in the areas affected by the leaks.

Smith said he didn’t want crews looking like they were walking in circles, but that’s basically what they were doing because no one knew where the shut off valves were located.

“If they are there, they don’t work,” Smith said.

Councilman Roland Lanehart Jr. chimed in, saying some valves are right-handed and others are left-handed. Smith said some valves are both right- and left-handed as they keep spinning and nothing happens, drawing laughs from officials.

Once the town gets a new locator, they’d start putting blue to mark the locations of valves.

“It’s very annoying when you’re trying to fix a water leak and you got 70 pounds of pressure constantly and you can’t find anything to get the pressure down,” Smith said. “It doesn’t matter if you open a fire plug, it doesn’t matter what.”

On Resley Street, crews did find one shut off valve, however it didn’t turn off the water flow — it shut off the hydrant in that area.

The line on Resley Street was patched, but they’ll have to go back once the valve is found, shut the valve off, dig the pipe back up, and then cut the pipe to install a new pipe.

Once the valves are found, Smith said they’d look for a grant to replace the existing valves.

Some of the existing pipe, specifically on Maryland Avenue, is fairly new but it’s too lightweight, the mayor said. Crews dug it up and barely touched the pipe with a backhoe and cracked the pipe because it was so thin, he said.

The town also has to look to find something that can reduce water pressure in the pipes.

Town officials said there is about 100 pounds of pressure going through the pipe, and when water is turned back open, that the pipe starts to jump.

As the pipe sits on stone and with the pressure causing the pipe to jump, the stone is rubbing a hole in the pipe, Smith said.

The town is in the engineering stages of a public water system improvement project.