Evanston officials say they now plan to speed up the replacement of an aging water main on Central Street that’s suffered eight breaks over the past two days.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says the six-inch cast iron water main was installed in 1924 and was already scheduled to be replaced next year.

But after all the breaks in the line since Monday afternoon the line will now be scheduled for replacement late this summer.

In case you live in the affected area on Central between Cowper Avenue and Central Park Avenue, here’s a recap of the watery mess.

  • The City’s Utilities Department was advised of the first leak, in front of 3131 Central St. about 3 p.m. Monday. The valve at the intersection of Central and Lawndale was closed at 4:30 p.m. to shut off the water to complete the repair of the initial leak.  However right after closing the valve, three new leaks surfaced, at 3217, 3057 and 3049 Central.
  • The residents in the 3100 block of Central, between Hastings and Lawndale had their water shut off from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. to fix the first leak.
  • The residents in the 3200 block of Central, between Prospect and Hastings, had their water shut off from 6:30 to 8:45 p.m. to repair the leak at 3217 Central.
  • The residents in the 3000 block of Central had their water shut off from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. to repair the leaks at 3057 and 3049 Central.

Bobkiewicz says all of these leaks were due to what is called a blow out – where a section of the water main material is weak and the internal pressure of the water inside the main creates a blow hole in the wall of the water main pipe.

  • Then about 12:15 p.m. Tuesday the Utilities Department was advised of another leak in front of 3019 Central St. The residents in the 3000 block of Central had their water shut off from 1:45 to 2:15 p.m. while the leak from yet another blow out hole was repaired.
  • Later that afternoon the Utilities Department was advised of another leak at 3029 Central and made this repair between 5:30 and 7 p.m.  This leak was created by linear crack that runs along the length of the water main.  The crews were able to place a sleeve over the cracked portion of the water main by partially closing valves and a total water service interruption was avoided.
  • The Utilities Department was advised on two additional leaks later that evening at 3023 and 3009 Central.  Both of these leaks were caused by linear cracks and were repaired with repair sleeves by reducing the pressure in the water main without a full water service interruption.

Bobkiewicz says water mains that were already scheduled for repair in this year were generally the same age and had the same or more breaks as these sections of the Central Street water main.

He says that the new replacement work will need to be designed and the plans submitted to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency with an application for a construction permit.  The IEPA generally requires ninety days to review the application.

He said the City will add the replacement of the 2,000 feet of water main on Central between Cowper and Central Park to the existing water main project that has been awarded for this year. That contract already has established low bid prices for all the unit items of work that will be necessary to complete this water main replacement. The project should begin late this summer.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Money for water main replacement?

    This is an expensive replacement so wheres the money?  Remember the city is taking 3 million dollars out of the water fund to pay for general city services and each year it claims it uses this money for capital repairs like this water line that is falling  apart.

    I would like to see their plan  whichcouncil members aren't too interested in water main replacements they are more interested in Wine and Cheese Bars, and giving away our money to private investors.  When they built the new apartments on Howard they had to add money to upgrade the water main. ( another gift to private interests)

    Maybe its time to get some real answers on the water main replacement program, versus staff each year asking for a fixed amount of money, which they can play with.  Its very clear they are NOT replacing the water main fast enough and what little money the claim they are getting they are misusing some of the funds.  By the way where did Wally find money for his studies to sell water to other communities?  Given the system here needs fixed, why so much interest to run new lines to other communities?

  2. Ponzi asks :”Given the

    Ponzi asks :

    "Given the system here needs fixed, why so much interest to run new lines to other communities?"

    The answer is simple, Ponzi. 

    Running lines to other communities can be profitable. The revenue can then be used to fix or upgrade our system, or lower our rates.

    Maybe a better question is:

    "Why is Ponzi complaining about  the Evanston water system trying to obtain revenue by selling water to other communities, while he is simultaneously complaining about the price of water and condition of our water system?"

    Enquiring minds want to know.

    1. You need to do your home work

      Mrr Who – almost 80% of the water sold is going to other communities , if the system is so profitable why will rate payers have to pay almost 30% more in a year or two. ( rates have been increased over the last few years)

      Our Mayor claimed she could break the unprofitable contracts in her campagin, never happen. ( a Joke )

      The city can not ever run its normal capital program without problems, how do you expect them to taken on enlarging the water plant and running major lines through town? ( Without huge cost overruns?)

      Water is not that profitable a business, ( unless you are in an arid climate )part of the reason the city is raising rates is the water usage is down from current customers. Why would anyone but a local city council member, Mayor  or city manager believe this is such a profitable business, for quite some time I have asked them to show me a finanical business model of the operation, its not available, or they are quite unwilling to show it, since its really not all that profitable. Iasked for a meeting to discuss the finanical operation, they never set it up, unoffically I was told they don't want it.

      The real issue here is where is the capital to replace the central street line?  You can go look at the CAFR and see they take out 3 million dollars from the water bills to pay for the general fund, money that for years need to go to water line improvements!  Over ten years 30 million dollars could have put a huge dent in replacing the old lines.

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