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Faulty Central Street water main to get early replacement

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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.

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