Work Complete, Now 'Wait and See' on Repaired Water Main

It is the end of a long work week for crews in Troy, repairing the water main that burst last Sunday morning. Geoff Redick reports.

TROY, N.Y. — The city's supervisor of public utilities said Friday that repair work is complete on a broken Lansingburgh water main, which spilled 8 million gallons of potable water into city streets last weekend.

The question remains: Will the repairs hold up under the full pressure of Troy's water supply? Water plant managers will begin releasing valves Saturday morning to allow treated water to flow back through the 33-inch pipe, which is now patched with nearly 10 feet of metal and several hundred pounds of concrete.

"I don't want to come back here," said public utilities supervisor Chris Wheland on Friday, speaking about the extensive repair job. "Is it a little overkill? Probably. But I think for the age of the pipe, and what we went through to ensure that it will not breach here again, it's well worth it."

The pipe was covered with canvas and plastic tarps Friday evening, to ensure the concrete that encases it will properly harden. An air release valve was also installed to bleed off any excess air pressure.

The air valve was a precaution, since the pipe has not been empty since its installation sometime between 1903 and 1906.

"Now that there has not been water in the main, there's a lot of air in there," Wheland said. "We need to get the air out, because air in the system adds more pressure."

Wheland also expressed concern about the pipe heaving, expanding and contracting as pressure is re-introduced. He would not rule out the possibility of a pipe collapse elsewhere in the nearly mile-long main. To combat the possibility, pressure will be re-introduced over the course of two days, so that the main can react slowly to the increasing forces on it.

Friday afternoon, Troy's new mayor, Patrick Madden, affirmed his commitment to repair more of Troy's aging infrastructure. The city has already approved the application for a $2 million state grant, and an accompanying loan, to cover the cost of replacing the broken water main in Lansingburgh.

"We'll be working with Chris [Wheland] over the next couple of months, to prioritize what might need to be addressed in the future," Madden said. "We'll be developing some priorities and we'll be pursuing funding to address those."

Madden said all city agencies that would normally respond to a water main break, including police and fire, will be at regular staffing throughout the upcoming weekend.

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