Public works and water district crews and Fanado Pelotte Construction pitched in Friday to fill up and clean the area excavated to fix a water main that broke Thursday evening. Morning Sentinel photo by Amy Calder

WATERVILLE — Workers Thursday night repaired a major water break on Appleton Street downtown and continued Friday morning to fill in the excavated area and clean up broken pavement, gravel and other debris.

“They removed a 10-foot section of pipe,” Kennebec Water District general manager Roger Crouse said Friday. “It was a pretty significant break. Usually the breaks are a little easier to manage. They had to cut out and repair a significant piece.”

The break in the 12-inch pipe installed in 1967 occurred in the street between the Waterville Public Library and Pagoda Express restaurant on The Concourse. Five Water District workers, as well as firefighters and public works employees, responded, and Fanado Pelotte Construction brought three workers and an excavator.

“Everyone worked hard,” Crouse said. “It was a very unfortunate event, especially being adjacent to where we had a failure before, but these things happen with buried infrastructure.”

The pipe was adjacent to one that broke in February and had to be repaired, he said. Another pipe in the vicinity broke in March 2019.

The main that broke Thursday is 10 or 12 feet in the ground and the Water District’s backhoe can not dig that deep, so Pelotte was called in, according to Crouse.

Public works and water district crews and Fanado Pelotte Construction pitch in Friday to fill the hole excavated to fix a water main that broke Thursday evening and to clean the area of soil and gravel. Morning Sentinel photo by Amy Calder

“It’s common for us to bring in a contractor, particularly on deep digs, and to have an extra dump truck available,” Crouse said.

Workers were able to shut the water off just before 6 p.m. Thursday and expose the pipe by about 8 p.m., he said. The workers remained at the scene until after 11 p.m.

“It was quite a mess last night, and there was no time to clean up,” Crouse said.

Waterville fire Capt. John Gromek said in an email Friday that the only issue with flooding was at Yardgoods Center on The Concourse, which had some water in its basement.

On Friday, a sweeper was cleaning up soil and gravel at the site in preparation for putting down temporary pavement, Crouse said.

Some of the businesses on The Concourse were out of water for a period of time Thursday, but once workers got the break isolated, water was turned back on. Crouse said no homes were impacted.

That part of Appleton Street is not included in a $2.7 million Water District project that started this week to replace pipes that are more than 100 years old.

Asked what caused the pipe to break, Crouse said it is difficult to say. There are a lot of possible factors involved, including whether there was a defect in the manufacture of the pipe, whether it was dropped when moved from storage, what was used for bedding when it was installed, whether the soil was very corrosive around it and so forth.

“There are a lot of variables that can cause main breaks, so it’s really difficult to look at something and say, ‘This is why it failed,’ ” Crouse said.

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