Water main break in Chester means ‘all-nighter’ for town crew

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2015 Telegraph Publishing LLC

A Green Mountain Power crew secures a grip on the pole to keep it in place while a town crew digs for the broken water main.

A Green Mountain Power crew secures a grip on the pole to keep it in place while a town crew digs for the broken water main. Photos by Shawn Cunningham.

A break in an 8-inch water main on Depot Street near Maple Street in Chester around 4 p.m. yesterday brought out a town crew that was expected to work through the night to make repairs. Until Water Superintendent Jeff Holden found the break and shut off the area from Jiffy Mart to the Chester Depot, much of the town reported low water pressure.

At the scene, a crew assembled to do the job, but not before a Green Mountain Power crew could arrive.  To reach the break, a town excavator had to dig around five guy-wires that prevent a power pole next to the break from leaning over on to the street.  Parking a boom truck at the pole, the electric crew gripped the pole with the boom to hold it in place and left the rig for the night.

With the nearby pole secure, the digging begins.

With the nearby pole secure, the digging begins.

Workers stood by as a Dig Safe technician located the pipe at a depth of 10 feet.  “That’s original pipe down there,” said Public Works Superintendent Graham Kennedy, noting that some of the main even ran under the house on the corner. Chester’s water system is more than 100 years old.

Nearing the main, workers stop to check measurements.

Nearing the main, workers stop to check measurements.

Knowing the depth of the main, workers could dig quickly to get close to the pipe, then portable walls called a trench box could be lowered into the hole so the digging could be finished by hand.  The trench box shields workers and their job against a cave-in of the sidewalls of the hole.

“Even if it’s an easy fix,” said Holden, “it will be all night.” Holden explained that once the main is repaired, the water has to be turned back on gradually with hydrants open to let the air bleed out of the system.

Thursday evening, residents and some businesses along Depot Street and in the Coach Road neighborhood above it went without water, while a check with MacLaomainn’s Scottish Pub at Main and Maple experienced a water stoppage of just a few minutes. Water was back on on Thursday morning.

Pumping the ground water out of the hole before workers finish digging by hand.

Pumping the ground water out of the hole before workers finish digging by hand.

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