WATERVILLE — A water main broke at about midnight Wednesday on Appleton Street in downtown Waterville, causing erosion, damaging pavement and requiring several hours to repair.

The street had to be closed as crews from the Kennebec Water District located and fixed the broken pipe, which had been installed in 1966.

The 12-inch water main developed a 10-foot split, according to Roger Crouse, the water district’s general manager. The pipe is about 8 feet underground, he said.

“It appears there was some corrosion on the exterior of the pipe that created a weak spot in the pipe,” Crouse said.

The split occurred near the Waterville Public Library, loosening gravel, undermining the pavement and creating a large hole near The Concourse, according to Crouse.

“The break was isolated around 2 a.m.,” he said just before 10 a.m. “It was a couple of hours earlier when it started leaking, so our crews responded and isolated that. Everything’s back in service. We cut out a 10-foot section of pipe and put a new section of pipe in there.”

Appleton Street by the library remained closed as of midmorning as an excavator dug to reach the broken pipe and there were traffic disruptions during the day as crews cleaned up the area.

The break was discovered after sensors at the district’s plant indicated water was being lost somewhere and customers reported water pressure problems and the sound of rushing water in their service due to so much water loss, according to Crouse. Police also called the water district.

The first challenge was finding the source of the water loss, Crouse said. Service, he said, was restored by about 8:30 a.m.

He said crews worked at the site for much of Thursday, filling around the pipe and broken pavement.

The water district has about 170 miles of pipe in Waterville, Winslow, Vassalboro, Fairfield and Benton, “the same distance from Waterville to Houlton,” Crouse said.

The water comes from China Lake.

“We pump an average of 3 million gallons a day from the lake and have 9,000 customers,” Crouse said. “That’s a lot of infrastructure the crews maintain and they do a good job, but you can’t predict when there’s going to be a break.”


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