Water breaks send city scrambling

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NATCHEZ — Small geysers of water bubbling up all over Natchez have David Gardner scratching his head.

Gardner, city engineer and Natchez Water Works supervisor, said his department worked a good part of Monday to repair a large number of line breaks across the city, but the cause of the breaks is still undetermined.

“We are experiencing an unusual amount of breaks,” Gardner said.

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Gardner said he believes a pressure surge to the water system caused the problems, but he can’t be certain.

“We really don’t know exactly what caused it,” he said.

Gardner said routine maintenance to an elevated water tank on Union Street could have been the cause of the pressure surge. Crews were draining the tank to prepare it for interior painting.

“That’s the only thing we can come up with now,” he said.

Gardner said if the draining of that tank did turn out to be the problem, it would be the first time that sort of maintenance has caused widespread line breaks.

While the tank was being drained in downtown, Gardner said the problems were felt all over the city.

“We had one on Maple Street, Shadyside, Prentiss, Franklin, MLK, Orange — so they are all over town,” he said.

Gardner said it is not uncommon for pressure fluctuations to cause some breaks, but he said, the number of breaks experienced Monday was unusual.

“Any kind of fluctuations will find the weak spots,” Gardner said. “We like to find our weak points on a gradual basis. We don’t like to have them all on one day.”

Gardner said the most of the lines compromised were small 2-inch lines, except the line on Franklin Street, which was a 4-inch line. Gardner said the small size of the lines makes them more susceptible to break, but Gardner said those lines are also easy to repair.

“There has been no harm to the system,” Gardner said. “It is just inconvenient to some customers who have had to be out of service for a short time.”

Water Works crews worked well into the night to repair the leaks.