Officials: Old pipes didn’t cause water main break

Northeast 33rd Avenue will be shut down until approximately 8 p.m.

Crews extricated a portion of a 110-year-old water main line in Northeast Portland, September 20, 2016. (KOIN)
Crews extricated a portion of a 110-year-old water main line in Northeast Portland, September 20, 2016. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Repair work continued Tuesday afternoon on a water main break that hampered traffic earlier in the day and cut off service to homes.

It happened around 3 a.m. on NE 33rd Avenue and Morris Avenue.

Crews work to repair broken Portland water main. September 20, 2016, (KOIN)
Crews work to repair broken Portland water main. September 20, 2016, (KOIN)

The main water line is a 24-inch pipe that was installed in 1906. Interestingly, it wasn’t that huge cast iron pipe that failed. Officials tell KOIN 6 News the main water line is in better shape than pipes that were put in place 50-70 years later.

It was a smaller, 8-inch feeder pipe connected to the main water line that started to leak. Crews on the scene Tuesday also found a valve that needs to be replaced.

Many residents in the area want to know why the old pipes haven’t been replaced.

“We have approximately 2,500 miles of mains here in Portland,” Portland Water Bureau Director of Maintenance Ty Kovatch said. “If we tried to replace all of that… based on what we know about its age, that would be a fruitless endeavor because we have other pipes that… by virtue of its break history… need to be replaced.”

Kovatch said the 110-year-old pipe isn’t necessarily a bad pipe.

Tuesday’s water main break affected around 72 homes. Traffic on NE 33rd Avenue between NE Morris Street and Siskiyou Street will be closed until 8 p.m.

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