City of Flint: Water main break could cost $500,000 to fix

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FLINT (WJRT) - (08/26/15) - The city of Flint says its latest water main break could cost half a million dollars to fix. The problem is so unique that the city is looking to outside help to get it resolved.

The affected pipe is a 24-inch transmission line that's buried underneath the Flint River. Utilities Administrator Mike Glasgow said the city doesn't have the manpower or equipment to handle the situation on its own.

On Tuesday, city crews noticed water bubbling up to the surface near James P. Cole Boulevard and Hamilton Avenue. It was evidence of a problem they first noticed over the weekend, when reduced pressure was detected in the system.

City workers managed to shut off valves on both sides of the pipe on Tuesday to stop the flow of water. It's estimated up to five million gallons a day was being lost. The water that normally runs through that transmission line was rerouted, so residents shouldn't notice any change in pressure. It's something the water department will be closely monitoring.

Residents on the east side may notice discoloration, but are advised to run their faucets to alleviate the issue.

The city is talking with outside contractors to determine the best pathway forward.

"This isn't a simple 'open the ground, patch the pipe and go on.' We may need to bore underneath the river and utilize some additional assets and capabilities to help us finish this repair," Glasgow said. "So until we actually get the pipe out of the ground, we can't really access how bad it is. But we can make estimates with losing about five million gallons of water a day that it's a pretty significant break. It's probably going to be a whole section of pipe that runs under the river that will have to be replaced."

Another repair option could be slipping a smaller pipe inside the existing pipe. The city may be using camera technology to get a better sense of the extent of the break.

Glasgow said it could be several weeks before the problem is completely fixed.

The city of Flint said capital improvement work, including valve replacements and leak detection work, is something that's important because it allows crews to see problems before they grow into more costly issues.

The city is keeping residents up to date on their findings and repairs through its newly revamped Problem Spotter webpage. Look for the link in the 'Related Links' section of this story.

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