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Disruptive water main break repaired in downtown Wolfville

All hands were on deck the morning of Aug. 7 as crews worked to repair the damage done by a water main break that occurred along Main Street in Wolfville the previous evening.
All hands were on deck the morning of Aug. 7 as crews worked to repair the damage done by a water main break that occurred along Main Street in Wolfville the previous evening. - Theo Giesen
WOLFVILLE, N.S. —

Motorists in the Annapolis Valley have encountered more than a few roadblocks this summer.

With planned construction on Highway 101 causing higher-than-normal traffic volumes throughout the Town of Wolfville recently, a water main break that occurred late in the evening Aug. 6 temporarily added another detour to the mix.

Adam Ferguson, who lives in Wolfville and witnessed the main break, said there was several inches of water pooling in areas spanning from Gaspereau Avenue down to Linden Avenue.

“It looked like a volcano was shooting water out the drain pipe near Linden,” Ferguson said. “It was gushing around a foot in the air continuously.”

Main Street was closed to local traffic soon after the main break.

Workers began tearing up the pavement and digging down to the pipes, creating a large hole in the centre of the road the following morning.

“The system is monitored by a SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) system that notifies an operator in the event of a water main break or other system malfunction,” said Kevin Kerr, director of public works for the Town of Wolfville, via email.

“The operator was in Tuesday night and had to locate a malfunctioning pressure reducing valve (PRV) before the broken line could be isolated. The distribution system has six PRVs, so each had to be checked before the line (was) isolated. This was completed at approximately 12:30 a.m.”

Multiple businesses on Main Street were impacted by the resulting flood.

Shoppers Drug Mart employees hung signs on the door in the morning Aug. 7 that read: “Due to a water main break on Main Street, our store will not be opening at this time. Sorry for any inconvenience.” They reopened later that afternoon.

Joe Rafih, owner of Joe’s Food Emporium, was outside evaluating the damage while construction went on.

“Old infrastructure,” Rafih said. “It’s wearing out.”

Rafih and his staff worked throughout the morning repairing tables, cleaning off chairs, and sweeping the patio in order to open up shop later that day.

While construction work was underway, traffic was directed down Front Street. Main Street was open again in time for the 5 p.m. rush.

“The actual repair was completed the next morning… after fibre optic cable in the area was located,” said Kerr.

Kerr believes an increase in water pressure is to blame for the incident.

“The break appears to have been caused by an increase in water pressure due to a pressure reducing valve malfunctioning. This allowed more water into the low-pressure side of the system than needed and the water main broke as a result of the increase in pressure,” he said.

It is estimated the repair work will cost roughly $3,500 to $4,000, Kerr said.

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