A major water main break on the Tarleton State University campus had the combined teams of Stephenville's Public Works Department and several other agencies working overtime to stop the flow of approximately 400,000 gallons of water on Monday.
On Tuesday afternoon, the E-T accompanied Public Works Director Nick Williams to the site of the 12-inch pipe break, ironically, right next to the Hydrology and Engineering TIAER building.
“We lost about 400,000 gallons before we could get it shut off on both sides of the break. The water flowed over Washington Street through the the cemetery all the way to West Swan Street.” said Williams. “That has pretty much all run off now with just a little water in some drainage ditches left and no major damage anywhere that we know of.”
Dennis Connelly who was supervising the city crew at TSU said, “We got here about 11 a.m. Monday, worked until around 11:30 p.m. and were back on it first thing Tuesday morning. Classes went on as scheduled, but Tarleton had students move cars out of the parking lot next to the gym and put a traffic control person on duty so students wouldn’t park here while we’re working. But other than that, things have gone on pretty much normally at TSU as far as we know.”
Williams explained that the unusual weather may have played a part in the break.
“It’s been really cold one day and then unusually warm the next, back and forth. That’s a lot of expansion and contraction going on - that may have been a factor in the break,” he said. “A big part of the problem in getting it fixed is where it occurred, which was under three other major water lines and specifically, under the middle one. It was just very difficult for out people to get to. But we’ve now rerouted the line that broke around that configuration so if something like this were to happen again in this location, it would be a lot easier to correct.”
Williams said that the system is operational now with just a couple of minor details still in the works at the moment.
“We’ll be putting on some finishing touches probably through Friday, but those things won’t affect usage that people on the system would notice. We caught a break in terms of the weather so we didn’t have to work in the really cold weather like we had last Thursday,” Williams said.
He added, “This emergency work was successful because of the city utility personnel’s dedication and the extensive coordination with Tarleton, the Stephenville Fire Department and the Erath County Volunteer Fire Department.”