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SHERIDAN — A broken water line behind the Mint Bar put city utility crews to work early Tuesday morning. It took most of the day to fix the leak, which knocked out water service to at least two businesses within a two-block radius south of Grinnell Plaza.
Utility Maintenance Superintendent Ken Hirschman said the operator of the street sweeper truck noticed water running down an alleyway near Gould Street and called in the problem at approximately 4:30 a.m. A city crew responded and ultimately determined there was a break in an older section of a 10-inch treated water line.
“When they break, water boils up from out of the ground,” Hirschman explained. “It comes up through cracks in the pavement or wherever it can and then runs straight down the alley.”
In order to fix the problem, crews ripped up part of the alleyway to gain access to the pipe.
Navigation to the work area was dicey because of the concentration of other utilities buried in close proximity to the area needing work.
“The excavation is difficult, especially when there are other utilities,” Hirschman said, adding the crew had to bypass a 6-inch gas pipe along with multiple fiberoptic lines and other utilities, none of which were damaged.
“We don’t have a whole lot of place that heavy with utilities, sometimes we do,” he said.
While the unexpected repair isn’t the optimal way to maintain city infrastructure, Hirschman said it could have been worse.
“I would rather fix it today than when it’s 45 degrees below and blowing sideways, or on a holiday,” he said.
“It would be great if we could schedule things like this,” Hirschman added.
Hirschman gave credit to the team who responded to the leak.
“These guys just bust their hump all day,” he said. “We’re the unseen people — we work behind the scenes a lot, and they’re a great bunch of guys.”
Initially, city officials estimated it would take all day to fix the leak. However, full function of the water line was restored by early Tuesday afternoon.