Crews from Maine Water, right, watch Monday as an excavator from Nitram Excavation moves rock into a ditch that was rebuilt after a 12-inch water main broke along Heselton Street in Skowhegan. A portion of Heselton Street was also reconstructed following the break. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

SKOWHEGAN — A water main break caused water pressure to drop and schools to close on Monday morning.

Mark Vannoy, vice president of Maine Water Co., said in a phone call that a leak that started early Monday morning initially caused disruption “to many customers throughout the system.”

Maine Water operates 11 water treatment facilities serving a dozen public water systems with 32,000 customers across the state, about 2,500 of them in Skowhegan.

“Our team in Skowhegan is fixing a 12-inch main break today on Heselton Street,” Vannoy said. “We were able to quickly isolate the leak and minimize the impact. The repair will take most of the day.”

The Maine Water Co. maintains a drinking water supply in two spring-fed ponds at its Heselton Street site and draws water from the Kennebec River as well.

The water is safe to drink, Vannoy said, but as repairs continue, the water main may be flushed, which can sometimes generate discolored water.

“Some customers may experience discolored water,” Vannoy said. “If that happens, they should run their cold water tap for about two minutes to clear the lines.”

By mid-morning, about 20 customers were still affected, Vannoy said. In total, Maine Water received eight calls about the issue but could not confirm exactly how many were impacted when the initial reports came in.

“It’s hard to judge,” Vannoy said. “Our tank levels were fine. We just had a leak. It’s a significant main break, and we (worked) to get that isolated. There was plenty of water throughout the system. It’s hard for me to say exactly how the system responded to that. You’ve got a distribution system with tanks that are supplying and maintaining the pressure in the system with water maintained in those tanks. That’s why we didn’t have more calls than we did.”

A Maine Water employee, left, watches Monday as an excavator from Nitram Excavation moves rock into a ditch that was rebuilt after a 12-inch water main broke along Heselton Street in Skowhegan. A portion of Heselton Street was also reconstructed following the break. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

On community pages on social media, residents reported that the issue was townwide in the early hours of the day.

Weather conditions played a role in this, Vannoy said, with the temperatures in the mid-teens early Monday morning.

“Especially (during) this time of year when you don’t have a whole lot of snow cover and you’ve got cold weather, there’s … a real uptake in breaks in our systems around the state,” Vannoy said.

In response to the water main break, Community Regional Charter School in Skowhegan and Cornville closed all three facilities for the day. Skowhegan schools within Maine School Administrative District 54 also closed Monday. Those affected schools were Bloomfield Elementary, Margaret Chase Smith School, North Elementary School, Skowhegan Area Middle School, Skowhegan Area High School, Marti Stevens Learning Center and Somerset Career and Technical Center.

Water drains from a house along Heselton Street after a 12-inch water main broke Monday in Skowhegan. A portion of Heselton Street was also reconstructed and ditches were rebuilt following the break. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Mill Stream Elementary in Norridgewock and Canaan Elementary were open Monday.

Both MSAD 54 and Community Regional Charter School is treating the closure as a snow day.


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