FARGO — The city of Fargo had trouble finding workers to fix a water main break on Easter Sunday before deciding to let it go until Monday, April 22.
The break was reported to the city about 8 a.m. Sunday on Fourth Street North near the Roger Maris Cancer Treatment Center, Public Works Services Manager Matt Andvik said. Crews put up roadblock signs shortly after that to keep motorists away from the gushing water, but the city ultimately decided to wait until Monday to begin repairs for the line that carries clean water.
“It’s one of those things where it is kind of a judgement call. But also being Easter Sunday, it’s kind of hard to get — you know, we only have so many guys that are on call, and sometimes it is a little bit harder to get people in because they are with their families,” he said.
The 10-inch pipe that's about a half-inch thick was made out of cast iron and dates back to the 1960s, Andvik said. It likely broke because the ground shifts as it thaws after being frozen during the winter, he said.
Workers returned to the site of the break Monday morning, fully turned off the line and began repairs. Fourth Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues North was closed to traffic, but the city expected to reopen the street by the end of Monday.
In total, an estimated 36,000 gallons of water was lost, which, if billed out using city rates, would cost about $160, Andvik said. Repairs likely will cost between $8,000 and $10,000, he said.
Typically, the city has enough workers to handle water line breaks over the weekend, but fixing ruptured lines on holidays can be harder since people are given those days off to spend with family, Andvik said.
There are people on call, but the harsh winter brought more snow — and more work for city crews. Some have only had five days off since Christmas, and crews have been going 24 hours a day at times, Andvik said.
“It’s kind of nice to give them some time off, too,” he said.
Crews felt the break was losing minimal water, and there was no threat of further damage to property. No homes lost water service and Sanford Health, which owns the cancer treatment center, likely saw little to no impacts from the broken pipe, he said.
“In the end, it’s cheaper to not fix it on overtime and fix it … during regular working hours,” he said.
The water was left flowing as little as possible but enough to keep any contaminants from entering the water line until they could shut it off and repair it, he said.
“As long as water is flowing out of it, nothing can get into the water main,” he said.
Andvik reminded anyone who sees a broken water pipe to report it to the city as soon as possible. Residents can do so by calling 701-241-1453 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, or the police dispatch center at 701-451-7660 outside of those times.
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