PROVO -- Provo city crews spent the morning cleaning up a muddy mess after a lead plug blew out on a water main at the intersection of 600 West and 300 South.
The water gushing from a T-section that comes off of the 20-inch pipe created a hole in the street followed by water rushing through the neighborhood around 2:30 a.m. Several homeowners had mud and water covering their yards, but the homes appear to be OK because they do not have basements.
The break caused quite a headache for neighbors as well as drivers in the area.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, cleanup crews were still on scene at the intersection, which is set to remain closed until nightfall. Crews were expected to have the hole filled sometime Monday evening, when traffic should be allowed to resume.
Water shut off while crews repair pipe
The water line itself is 75 to 80 years old, but city Public Works Director Merrill Bingham says pipes on the main line appear to be in "really good shape."
He says the only thing that failed was the lead plug.
A water specialist for public works says officials have not been able to determine why the cap blew off, and he says they'll probably never know. "These things just happen," he said.
City crews were unable to simply put a new plug over the pipe, so they've replaced a section of the water main with new piping.
Crews had closed the water line earlier in the day, but by around 3:45 p.m. service was restored to normal by the city.
Around 35 buildings were without water while the pipe was being fixed, including Franklin Elementary School. Classes were held as normal at the school with portable toilets and bottled water being brought in for the students.
Provo School District spokesman Greg Hudnall says it was important to hold classes, and the situation even presented a good teaching opportunity.
"This is a good example for our teachers to talk about infrastructure in the city," he said. "How water is piped, the sewers, different things and how no one planned this, this is no one's fault, and to talk about how we all work together."
Most residents avoid damage to homes
Resident Marco Niccoli says a police officer pounded on his door around 3 a.m. "He was like, ‘You guys need to evacuate. Grab everything you can and get out as fast as you can,'" he said.
"The house over to our left looked like a lake house when I came out." Clint Karlinsey
Niccoli says when he stepped off his porch, the water in his yard was knee deep. His house was spared from damage because it doesn't have a basement.
Clint Karlinsey grabbed his flip-flops and camera and rushed outside after learning the street just outside his home was flooding. "The house over to our left looked like a lake house when I came out," he said.
One portion of an apartment complex owned by Bruce Degler wasn't so lucky.
"Just a fluke," said Degler. "The water came at just the right spot and came here and hit us. I guess the water just found its way around through the back of our building and down into the stairwell and then just under the doors from there."
Degler says Provo City has been helpful in getting an emergency cleaning crew there right away, and he expects the city will help pay for repairs.