Workers with Kennebec Water District and Fanado Pelotte, a Waterville contractor, help repair a water main break Monday on Newland Avenue off Mayflower Hill Drive in Waterville. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

Subzero temperatures caused frost to move quickly and deeply into the ground over the weekend, leading to water main breaks in Waterville and Winslow and frozen pipes for businesses and homes across central Maine, authorities said Monday.

The Waterville-based Kennebec Water District got four calls of broken water mains in one day, which is extremely rare, according to superintendent Roger Crouse.

“None of them were catastrophic breaks,” he said. “We were able to control the flow, and there was minimal road damage.”

As temperatures dipped close to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, one break occurred on Main Street in Waterville in front of Best Western Plus Waterville Grand Hotel, in a 4-inch pipe about 6 feet underground, requiring workers to close one lane of traffic. They excavated the ground to uncover the pipe and fix the crack, completing the work later Saturday, Crouse said.

The water in the pipe was used for fire service only, so the hotel itself and nearby businesses never lost water, he said. It was most urgent to repair that pipe first because of its location in a heavy traffic area and for safety reasons, according to Crouse.

Breaks on Rousseau and Sunset streets in Winslow were repaired Sunday, and workers repaired a pipe on Newland Avenue in Waterville on Monday. The breaks were in residential areas and those on Rousseau and Newland were “circumferential,” meaning the breaks were along the round part of the pipe rather than horizontally. On Sunset, a dead-end street, the pipe was a dead-end pipe which had to be cut off and capped as part of the six-hour repair, according to Crouse. He said that break caused water to run into the woods and a ravine.


In each of the breaks, fire or police officials, or the public, notified the water district water was seen bubbling from the ground, Crouse said.

Engineering technician Bill Boucher, at left, and distribution technicians Zach Noble, center, and Ross Desjardins, all with the Kennebec Water District, work to repair a water main break Monday on Newland Avenue off Mayflower Hill Drive in Waterville. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

The district, which supplies water to Benton, Fairfield, Vassalboro, Waterville and Winslow, also got a lot of calls from customers reporting frozen plumbing in their buildings and frozen water meters, according to Crouse.

“We had more than the typical number of calls from customers that had issues with their internal plumbing,” he said. “We don’t do any thawing of internal plumbing. We will come in and replace water meters and turn off water service into the street.”

Residents of the Pleasant Ridge Mobile Home Park on Benton Avenue in Winslow said they had been without water for three days. An excavator was being used Monday to dig up the park’s water line but it wasn’t clear if the lack of water was due to a broken main.

The Greater Augusta Utility District, which serves primarily Augusta and Manchester, fared much better than communities to the north. General Manager Brian Tarbuck said Monday the district had no reports of water main breaks, though some customers experienced frozen pipes and water and sewage leaks.

“We had maybe four calls — it wasn’t really that bad,” Tarbuck said. “I was surprised. We were very lucky this go round.”


A call placed Monday to Maine Water which supplies water to nearly 32,000 customers in many areas, including Hartland, Oakland and Skowhegan, was not returned.

The Skowhegan Fire Department reported few cold-related calls, according to firefighter Matt Quinn.

“We had a couple of frozen pipes and that was about it, so we came through pretty unscathed,” he said.

At Colby College in Waterville, a water sprinkler head in a small storage area off Colby’s heating plant froze and popped Sunday due to the extreme cold weather, a college spokesman said. This produced steam that was initially mistaken for smoke and resulted in the Waterville Fire Department being contacted. The campus was not impacted, the official said.

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