Main break forces Lewes to shut down water system

BPW, Harry Caswell make quick fix
Lewes Board of Public Works employees, assisted by employees and equipment of Harry Caswell Plumbing, work to repair a broken water main at the corner of Third Street and Savannah Road. BY NICK ROTH
January 9, 2014

Employees of Lewes Board of Public Works were forced to shut down the town's water system at midnight Jan. 8 to repair a ruptured 12-inch water main at the corner of Savannah Road and Third Street.

Mayor Jim Ford said he was told the line was to be offline for no more than five hours, and it was expected to be up and running when folks woke up this morning.

With the help of Harry Caswell, Board of Public Works General Manager Darrin Gordon said, the main was repaired and the system was back online by 2 a.m.

"This is what we do," Gordon said. "We prepare for the worst-case scenario and then over perform."

While there is no way of knowing, Gordon suspects the main break was caused by the extreme cold conditions early this week. He said there have been other pipe breaks reported in Lewes, but no other major problems like the main break.

The break was was discovered Wednesday morning. The Public Works staff did what they could to repair the main, but the constant pressure of the system created problems, Gordon said.

Joe Touchton of the water department said workers were unable to ascertain how bad the break was because the pit excavated to get at the break was constantly filling with water.

Beebe Healthcare, whose downtown Lewes hospital is on city water, alerted its employees about the situation and asked those working last night to bring their own personal drinking water.