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The City of Evanston has experienced a series of water main leaks and breaks over the past few days on Central Street. There have been eight water main breaks, on the 6-inch diameter water main on Central Street between Cowper Avenue and Central Park Avenue within the past 48 hours. This water main was installed in 1924 and is therefore 86 years old. The water main is constructed of cast iron.

The City’s Utilities Department was advised of the first leak (in front of 3131 Central) at approximately 3:00 PM on Monday, June 4th. The valve at the intersection of Central and Lawndale was closed at 4:30 PM 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) experienced a two hour water service interruption (4:30 to 6:30 PM) to fix the first leak. The residents in the 3200 block of Central (between Prospect and Hastings) experienced a two hour fifteen minute water service interruption (6:30 to 8:45 PM) to repair the leak at 3217 Central. The residents in the 3000 block of Central experienced a three hour water service interruption (7:30 to 10:30 PM) to repair the leaks at 3057 and 3049 Central.

All of these leaks were due to what is called a blow out type of main break – 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.

The Utilities Department was advised of another leak in front of 3019 Central Street at approximately 12:15 PM on Tuesday, June 5th. The residents in the 3000 block of Central experienced another thrity minute water service interruption (1:45 to 2:15 PM) to repair the leak from yet another blow out hole.

Later that afternoon the Utilities Department was advised of another leak at 3029 Central and made this repair between 5:30 and 7:00 PM. 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.

This section of water main has experienced more frequent leaks and breaks over the past several years and was the top priority for replacement in 2013. The water mains currently being replaced in 2012 are generally the same age and had the same or more breaks as these sections of the Central Street water main.

Given the events of the past two days, the Utilities Department is proposing to expedite the replacement of the water main prior to this Winter when water main breaks are generally expected. The replacement of these sections of water main will need to be designed and the plans submitted to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) with an application for a construction permit. The IEPA generally requires ninety days to review the application.

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 the 2012 Water Main Project. This project 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 in late Summer, 2012.

For further information, please feel free to contact the City by calling 311 or by e-mail at utilities@cityofevanston.org