Grand Rapids Water Officials Call Water Main Break “A Freak Of Nature”

Posted at 9:30 PM, Jan 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-23 22:39:08-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.– Repair of a broken water main continued well into the night at the intersection of Gladstone Drive and Adams Road in the city’s southeast side on Wednesday.

Roughly 85 homes were without water due to the break of a 30 inch water main.

Around midnight on Tuesday, Yvonne May who lives at the intersection where the pipe burst, said she was getting ready for bed when she heard the sound of rushing water.

“It just kept flowing and bubbling over and all of the sudden it started going down the street and it was just crazy,” said May.

A broken pipe of this size and age is a rare sight according to Grand Rapids water systems manager Wayne Jernberg.

He said the pipe that broke was put in the ground in 1950.

“It can last anywhere up to 100 or 125 years,” said Jernberg.

Jernberg says the recent arctic blast can cause the ground to freeze and shift, creating pressure on the underground pipes.

The rushing water created a sink hole, taking out May’s tree in her front yard.

“You just saw the tree kind of just lean,” said May.  “Ok, I just saw that tree move.”

The hole stopped about five feet short from swallowing her car parked in the driveway.

The falling tree took out power lines as well.

May said she left for work and was told crews had to enter her house while she was gone due to a gas leak as well.

With those issues fixed, a specialized crew of workers were contracted by the city to repair the water main.

City crews also blame the frozen weather for at least three other much smaller water main breaks in the city.

Once the water is restored at Adams and Gladstone, the city has issued a boil water advisory.  The advisory is expected to last two to three days.