Waterline break at 'worst possible' site

YOUNGSTOWN — A break in one of the city’s two largest waterlines resulted in the loss of at least 4 million to 6 million gallons of water and will cost the city about $100,000 to repair.

Water department employees were searching Wednesday for a potential leak to the 36-inch water pipe on Marshall Street on the lower West Side when the top of an elbow joint separated from the pipe.

“Something major happened,” said Joseph Dunlap, the water department’s superintendent of construction. “I can’t say it was the digging that caused the break, and I can’t say it wasn’t the digging. We won’t know until we get to the line.”

The line broke about 1:40 p.m. Wednesday, flooding Marshall Street behind the Youngstown Maennerchor building that fronts Mahoning Avenue. There are three other waterlines in that area.

About 4 million to 6 million gallons of water was lost, said Water Commissioner John Casciano. That amount could increase, he said.

The city and the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District, which sells water in bulk to the city, had trouble turning off water valves to the pipe, said Eugene Leson Jr., the city water department’s chief engineer. Water was still leaking from the broken pipe Thursday, but the amount wasn’t as much as Wednesday, he said.

Even with the loss of millions of gallons, Casciano said the city would only have to pay about $5,000 to the MVSD for the water.

The elbow joint, installed sometime in the 1950s or 1960s, has concrete blocks around it to keep it in place, Leson said.

“It’s possible [the concrete] eroded or was poured incorrectly,” he said.

The elbow joint is located about 2,000 feet from where the MVSD’s 42-inch waterline connects to the city’s 36-inch line, Leson said. It is one of two 36-inch waterlines in the city. Those two 36-inch lines are the largest in Youngstown.

The one with the broken elbow joint provides water to the lower West Side, the lower South Side and downtown, Casciano said.

“It’s one of the worst possible locations for a break,” Leson said. “We don’t know the extent of the damage, but it’s pretty extensive.”

Marucci & Gaffney Excavating Inc., a Youngstown company, is expected to start repair work todayfri or Saturday, Leson said. Neither the amount of damage to the pipe nor how long it will take to repair it is known, Leson said, but the cost will be close to $100,000.

Some water customers were without water for an hour or two after the line broke, but it was restored quickly, Casciano said.

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