Boil water alert for part of downtown

Published 6:45 pm Friday, February 21, 2014

Water Break


A boil water notice remained in effect for a swath of downtown businesses and living spaces after a water main broke Friday afternoon near Washington and China streets.

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Water service was cut at about 3 p.m. Friday to businesses in a two-block section of Washington Street between China and Crawford streets and the notice issued after city officials discovered water shooting through a 1-inch hole in a 100-year-old 16-inch water line downtown. It was restored at about 6 p.m.

 Water mains superintendent Dane Lovell said the boil water notice, which was issued about 4 p.m. Friday, was expected to be lifted sometime late today.

The section affected by the cutoff is home to two restaurants, Lillian’s and the 1311 Bar and Grill, and the Upper End Lounge. Both businesses are urged to boil water to cook and drink until further notice.

He said city officials learned of the leak about 1:30 p.m. Friday and estimated it may have occurred sometime near Christmas. He said the line was one of the oldest in the city. The leak was sealed using a “band,” a rubber-lines patch of steel that was bolted over the damaged section of line.

Marcus Furniture owner Steven Marcus, who reported the leak, said he and his son, Don Marcus, had been hearing a rushing-type noise, “but it didn’t sound like water moving. It sounded more like gas hissing.

“At first, it sounded like someone had left their car running in front of the store,” he said. “I kept going outside to check.”

It wasn’t until someone called him to come outside the store to the street to hear a noise that he identified the sound.

“This guy said, ‘come out here and listen to this,’ I went outside, and you could hear it, podnah (the water rushing under the street).”

Water mains employees began digging at the site about 2 p.m., using a backhoe equipped with a jackhammer to break the pavement and dig out dirt around the damaged line.

The line was cleared, a stream of water shot out under high pressure, slamming into an adjacent brick storm drain.

During the two months it was undetected, the pressurized leak had eaten through the surrounding dirt, eroding it and creating an empty cavern about 6 feet deep under the road.

Workers took about four hours to finish removing the dirt from around the line and installing the patch.

The city has said it has $57.7 million worth of repair work to do below city streets with the water and sewer systems and storm drains. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen plan to meet Monday to prioritize a list of infrastructure projects first publicized in December.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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