WATERVILLE — A water main broke on Appleton Street downtown late Thursday afternoon, sending water gushing toward businesses on The Concourse, breaking up pavement and flooding basements.

Kennebec Water District workers were at the scene trying to close off valves and identify the location of the main, which is between the Waterville Public Library and Pagoda Express restaurant.

Roger Crouse, general manager of the Water District, said the broken main is in the area of a main that broke in February.

The Water District called in Fanado Pelotte Construction, a Waterville contractor, to excavate the street, and Crouse said he expected the 12-inch main, installed in 1967, would be repaired later Thursday.

“It usually takes four to seven hours, depending on the break and the complexity of the repair,” he said.

A water main broke in downtown Waterville late Thursday afternoon, flooding the Concourse and businesses around it. Lt. Scott Holst stands on a tarp to try to prevent water from flooding into the back door of Pagoda Express restaurant. Morning Sentinel photo by Amy Calder

Waterville fire and public works employees responded to the scene. Fire Lt. Scott Holst was standing on a blue tarp wedged up against the back door of Pagoda Express, trying to prevent the water gushing toward it from entering the restaurant.

This is the third time in just more than a year that water mains in that area have broken. One occurred in March 2019 and another in February this year. Crouse has been general manager since 2018.

“This is the third time here in my tenure, and the Goodwill seems to be the low spot, unfortunately,” he said. The basement of the Goodwill store at the south end of that stretch of The Concourse was flooded with 8 feet of water during the 2019 main break. That break occurred just around the corner from where Thursday’s break happened.

Appleton Street, from Main Street to Elm Street, was closed to traffic while work continued. Crouse watched as workers tried to close off a valve as water rushed around them.

“Once they can close this valve, it’ll be just this stretch of road that is closed — there are no customers on this section,” Crouse said.

It appeared the men were having trouble closing the valve and Crouse said if they were unable to do it, they would have to expand the work to other valves.

“Unfortunately, that will put some people out of water,” he said.

He said some customers may see discolored water in their systems as the work continues.

That stretch of Appleton is not included as part of a $2.7 million Water District project that started this week to replace pipes installed downtown more than 100 years ago, though Crouse said the pipe situation in that area of Appleton may be reevaluated.

“A 1967 pipe — you’d hope it would last longer,” he said. “We don’t really have an understanding of why this pipe keeps breaking, but it definitely is a problem.”

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