An estimated 1,500 gallons of water a minute flowed down Indiana near the Valley Mall Tuesday after a water main broke, turning the street into a good imitation of the Little Spokane River.
Alex Franklin was mowing the grass in the center island when water began shooting out from underneath him shortly before 2 p.m.
“Water just started gushing,” he said. “I could just see the road rising.”
The water covered all four lanes of the road and flowed into a field. For a while, motorists were able to drive east, with Franklin waving them to the side of the road to avoid the bulging pavement. A heavy concrete truck passed by, though, causing the pavement to groan and water to gush out faster.
Water bubbled up through cracks in the road and flowed from underneath the center island. Sheriff Community Oriented Policing Effort volunteers shut down the road, and workers from Consolidated Irrigation District 19 arrived to shut off the water. It slowly drained away, revealing pavement with a spider web of cracks that undulated like an ocean wave frozen in time.
An estimated 200 feet of roadway was pushed up several inches on the south side of Indiana and was resting on top of the curb. The pipe that broke was a 12-inch main under Indiana that was installed about 10 years ago to serve development expected in the area, said District 19 manager Bob Ashcraft.
The cause of the break had not been determined Tuesday, but Ashcraft said such a break on a relatively new line is not common. “No, not like this, especially a big line,” he said.
All new pipe is tested by running water through it at 50 percent over normal operating pressure when it is installed, Ashcraft said.
Workers were able to shut down the leak without anyone losing water, though the Valley Mall and other businesses saw a dramatic drop in water pressure during the half hour the water flowed freely down the road.
“It wasn’t a complete loss of water,” said IHOP manager Jesse Eggers. “We had enough water to do what we needed to do.”
The Valley YMCA was also affected. “We did put up signs and we asked people not to use the showers and toilets,” said director Steve Jurich.
He appreciated the rapid response by the irrigation district. “The crews were really responsive. They really seemed to get right on it,” Jurich said.
Indiana will remain shut down between Evergreen and Mirabeau Parkway until the water main is fixed and the road repaired, possibly by today.
“Our work is cut out for us,” Ashcraft said.
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