Water main was broken by road crews using bad map

Apr 21, 2020

The Monday water main break on Cranberry Highway and Main Ave., which left many with low pressure and discolored water for hours, was the result of a faulty map being used by road construction workers.

David Rich, the acting superintendent of Onset Water, explained that the workers were using a map produced by a contractor hired by the state which showed the water main six feet away from its actual location.

“So, they weren’t really looking for the main in that location,” Rich said.

The department responded immediately to the break at about 11:30 a.m., and got to work. It took several hours for the department to locate, uncover, and shut down all the valves controlling the flow of water, which they completed by about 1:30 or 2 p.m. When the water was completely shut off, the contractor quickly worked to pump the water out of the trench and repair the break -- work that was completed at about 4:30 p.m. Monday. 

Rich said that the vast majority of customers saw a return to normal service last night, but that he had received several calls Tuesday morning from people who were still experiencing discolored water. After his crews flushed the hydrants near those homes, the problem was resolved.

Rich has already gotten in touch with the state and intends to review the plans for the rest of the Cranberry Highway work to make sure mains are where the plan says they are. 

“We’ve got to be much more careful now because we’re not absolutely sure that the water mains are where the plan says they are,” Rich said. 

All things considered, Rich said he thinks that both his staff and the contractor handled the situation well.

If any Onset Water customers are still experiencing issues with their water, Rich asked them to call the district headquarters at 508-295-0603.