Water restored to Kennett Square residents after water main break
By Steven Hoffman
A water main break in the 200 block of East South Street late Saturday evening left many borough residents and businesses without water for nearly two days.
Borough manager Brant Kucera said at Monday night’s council meeting that water service had finally been restored to all parts of the borough earlier in the day.
“Everyone at this point should have water,” Kucera said.
The borough manager recounted the events of the previous two days that left borough residents without water service and forced many restaurants in town to close. He said that the first indication that something was amiss came at around 7 p.m. on Saturday night when borough officials were notified by the Chester Water Authority that readings were indicating that the system had low pressure. By around 9 p.m., calls had come in about two homes on Broad Street that didn’t have water, as well as a home on Wayne Avenue. The random nature of the loss of water pressure was another sign that there was a problem with the system.
The borough’s Public Works Department started notifying the necessary agencies that there was a problem with the water system and set out to find the leak. The location of the water main leak was identified, Kucera said, but isolating and fixing the leak proved to be much more of a challenge. Some of the valves were shut off in an attempt to isolate the leak, but eventually the well was shut off at about 3 a.m. on Sunday morning.
Work to fix the problem continued throughout Sunday. Digging to get to the water main was slowed because that water main is close to three other water mains, a sewer main, and a gas line.
Kucera said that the borough’s employees were assisted by volunteers from the Kennett Fire Department and police and public works employees from neighboring Kennett Township. The Kennett Consolidated School District also dispatched two employees familiar with the operations of water systems to help out.
The repairs were completed by about 10 p.m. Sunday night and the hydrants were opened up to let air out of the system. Then the well was opened back up to start the process of filling the water system up slowly so that the chances of another water main break were reduced.
Most municipalities will experience a leak in a water main from time to time, but what was rare in this instance was for water service to have to be shut down to the entire borough. Kucera said that there hasn’t been a similar case in at least the last 15 years in Kennett Square.
What caused the water main to break in the first place?
“We are still investigating that,” Kucera said.
When the initial call from the Chester Water Authority came in, everyone thought that the low pressure readings might be related to the new valve that had been installed at the South View water tank, which is part of the Yeatmann well. Based on how the main broke, there could have been a problem with the functioning between the valve and the booster station.
Borough officials posted updates about the water issue on Facebook. More than 1,800 flyers were also circulated to residents.
Even though there were no signs of contamination to the water system, an advisory was issued encouraging residents and businesses to boil water before drinking it.
In order to lift the advisory, the water must be tested and have clean results on consecutive days.
Kucera said that nine
samples were taken on Monday, and on Tuesday morning the borough reported that
those results were good. The second round of tests will be available at 6 a.m.
on Wednesday, Sept. 17. If those results are also good, the order to boil water
will be lifted.
“There is nothing to indicate that there is any contamination,” Kucera said. “There should be no public threat whatsoever.”
Borough officials encouraged residents to sign up for the Swift 911 system that informs residents whenever an emergency situation takes place. Residents can receive text messages, emails, or telephone calls about water issues, snow emergencies, or other matters of public interest by signing up for the alerts.
“For your safety, we want you to do that,” said council president Leon Spencer.
Residents can sign up for the alerts by visiting the borough's website (www.kennett-square.pa.us), calling the borough hall at 610-444-6020, or by stopping in borough hall to have the form filled out for you. Borough officials might consider making it a requirement to sign up for the alerts.
To contact Staff Writer Steven Hoffman, email email@example.com.