Water tank repairs stressing Greenfield’s water lines

  • A water main break at Silver Street and Washburn Avenue closed Silver Street for most of the day. RECORDER FILE PHOTO

Recorder Staff
Published: 9/19/2016 10:03:25 PM

GREENFIELD — The water main and service breaks that have detoured traffic on a number of Greenfield’s roads over the past several weeks should become less frequent, according to Department of Public Works Director Don Ouellette.

There have been at least 15 breaks since the Rocky Mountain Water Tank was taken offline in mid-August for a $1 million repair project. Ouellete said most of those problems have been water service line breaks, and there have only been about five water main breaks.

“We normally have a break a week — usually a service break — and you’ve got an old system here. A lot of the pipes are between 70 to 100 years old,” he said. “We took the water tank offline Aug. 18 and that screwed up the water flow. It also increased the pressure that we have in town by about 10 pounds. What I think you’re finding is that because of those two things, we’re getting all of the weak points in our system broken, and we’re doing all of the repairs now.”

In order to get water to all parts of town, Ouellette said some water was added to the reservoir at Oak Hill, which increased pressure, and a pressure reducing valve on Adams Tank was replaced and opened, also increasing pressure.

However, Ouellette said the breaks have been slowing down — two weeks ago, there were only two breaks. To combat the problem, the DPW has lowered water levels in the Oak Hill Water Tank by two feet in order to reduce pressure.

“That lowers pressure approximately five pounds,” he said. “We’ll see how that works, and we may try lowering it another foot or two.”

For every foot raised or lowered, Ouellette said pressure is increased or decreased by 2.31 pounds. He said the DPW may try lowering the water level by another foot later this week, but has to be careful because if the level drops too far, there won’t be enough pressure for residents in the north part of Bernardston to get water.

Ouellette added the company doing work on the Rocky Mountain Water Tank is ahead of schedule, and should finish by mid-October — about a month before the tank was supposed to come back online. He said because most of the water services are old, galvanized lines, if they didn’t break now they likely would have broken over the winter.

Although the town doesn’t have a complete program from replacing water mains yet, Ouellette said a line item has been added to the capital budget to start spending money every year on water mains. The town also recently finished a $1.2 million project to replace the water main on Leyden Road.

Currently, he said there is about $30,000 designated in the town’s operating budget for repairs.

“As far as the significant water main repairs that we need to do, that’s going to start being put into the capital plan and eventually we’ll get into a program where we’re replacing maybe a mile a year or something of that nature, but it’s just going to take a little bit of time to build that up,” he said. “The top priority was really to get the water tank done.”

Greenfield Recorder

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Greenfield, MA 01302-1367
Phone: (413) 772-0261
Fax: (413) 772-2906


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