Wa­ter main break closes Spring­dale schools

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - HICHAM RAACHE

SPRING­DALE — A main wa­ter line broke early Thurs­day morn­ing, spilling more than 1 mil­lion gal­lons and caus­ing all city schools to close.

The 36- inch line broke be­tween 420 and 412 Park St. near Luther Ge­orge Park and res­i­den­tial neigh­bor­hoods. Park Street runs from Emma Av­enue to­ward the south part of town.

It’s un­known what caused the break, said Heath Ward, Spring­dale Wa­ter Util­i­ties di­rec­tor.

“More than likely it was prob­a­bly ma­te­rial fail­ure,” Ward said. “There was no off- the- wall sit­u­a­tion to cause this.”

The main broke about 4 a.m., and util­ity work­ers had the sit­u­a­tion un­der con­trol by about 6 a.m. More than 1 mil­lion gal­lons of wa­ter gushed out of a crack more than a foot long, Ward said.

“Con­sid­er­ing the size of the crack, we’re pretty lucky,” Wards said.

The Beaver Wa­ter Dis­trict re­ported to the city at 4: 07 a. m. the tank level in the Spring­dale sys­tem were fall­ing quickly. This in­di­cated a se­vere leak, ac­cord­ing to a city news re­lease.

Schools were closed be­cause there was no wa­ter at 25 of the 31 schools at 5 a.m., ac­cord­ing to Rick Scha­ef­fer, com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for Spring­dale Pub­lic Schools.

Once ser­vice was re­stored, the schools be­gan a process of clean­ing all geo­ther­mal

sys­tems, dis­as­sem­bling and clean­ing all flush valves, toi­lets, sinks and wa­ter foun­tains and flush­ing the boiler sys­tems in all the kitchens, Scha­ef­fer said.

“So they’ll be work­ing all day on that; that’s a pretty ex­ten­sive process,” Scha­ef­fer said Thurs­day morn­ing.

Deputy Su­per­in­ten­dent Jared Cleve­land said the main­te­nance staff would work through the day and night to com­plete the restora­tion process so stu­dents and staff could re­turn to cam­puses to­day.

Util­ity per­son­nel con­tacted North­west Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter-Spring­dale as soon as the line break was dis­cov­ered, Ward said.

The hos­pi­tal had no is­sues, said Pat Driscoll, vice pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing for the hos­pi­tal.

“We had a drop in wa­ter pres­sure, but it was fixed so quickly that we had no is­sue,” Driscoll said.

It’s un­known how many homes in Spring­dale were af­fected, but be­cause it is a main line that “trans­mits mas­sive amounts of wa­ter,” cus­tomers through­out the city, as well as client mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Ton­ti­town and John­son, were af­fected, Ward said.

“There were some lo­ca­tions that might of had some cloudy wa­ter from a lit­tle bit of sed­i­ment in there,” Ward said. “If the sys­tem gets shocked, it can stir that up and give it some dis­col­oration.”

A boil or­der didn’t have to be is­sued.

“We did not is­sue a boil or­der be­cause we did not de­pres­sur­ize the sys­tem, and af­ter talk­ing to our staff and the De­part­ment of Health, we didn’t see a need to is­sue a boil or­der,” Ward said. “We have one of the health­i­est wa­ter sys­tems from a main­te­nance stand­point in the state.”

A sec­ondary, 16-inch line is be­ing used un­til the main line is re­paired.

“We hope this line is back in ser­vice in 72 to 96 hours,” Ward said in a news re­lease is­sued late Thurs­day. “The work will not take that long, but we must scru­ti­nize and send out lab sam­ples on the line prior to re­turn­ing to ser­vice. As long as the com­mu­nity con­tin­ues to be mind­ful of con­ser­va­tion, we don’t an­tic­i­pate any fur­ther is­sues.”

Ward said such a sit­u­a­tion is rare.

“We deal with line breaks ev­ery­day, but some­thing of this mag­ni­tude is just huge,” he said.

“There were some lo­ca­tions that might of had some cloudy wa­ter from a lit­tle bit of sed­i­ment in there. If the sys­tem gets shocked, it can stir that up and give it some dis­col­oration.”

— Heath Ward, Spring­dale Wa­ter Util­i­ties Di­rec­tor

NWA Demo­crat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK

Per­son­nel with Spring­dale’s Wa­ter Util­i­ties De­part­ment con­tinue to drain and clear Thurs­day the area where a 36-inch wa­ter main broke be­tween 420 and 412 Park St. in Spring­dale. The main broke around 4 a.m. Schools were closed be­cause there was no wa­ter at 25 of the city’s 31 schools, ac­cord­ing to Rick Scha­ef­fer, com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for the School Dis­trict.

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