Local News

February 4, 2014

Shattered water main replaced in Saranac Lake

SARANAC LAKE — It took 20 hours to repair a water main that shattered here on Friday, a job that in warm weather might take four to six hours.

“The difficulty was mostly due to the amount of frost in the ground,” Saranac Lake Village Manager John Sweeney said Monday.

Department of Public Works crews had to use a hydraulic hammer to pound and chip through 4 feet of frozen-solid earth before they could get to the broken line 5 feet underground, he said.

The water-main break on Park Avenue between Circle and Baker streets was reported to Saranac Lake Police initially at about 11:30 p.m. Friday. Air temperatures hovered somewhere between 18 to 20 degrees that night.

The recent bitter, extended stretch of cold weather is likely what caused the break, Sweeney said.

“I think what is happening is the frost in the ground shifted the pipe around. It literally shattered this pipe, which then dumped approximately 500,000 gallons of water in about 30 minutes. 

“The water lifted the asphalt surface of the road. It looked like a balloon.”


Zoe Smith and her family live in the Park Avenue neighborhood and saw the road bubble form, then burst.

“I would describe it as the road was up-heaved,” Smith said via email on Monday. “It was as if the earth shifted underneath the road and the asphalt was pushed up — sort of like a bubble but more what you’d expect to see from an earthquake.

“The equally fascinating thing,” she continued, “was the rushing wall of water that was flowing across the neighbor’s yard, hitting our house and diverting through our garden, over a small stone wall and directly into the neighbor’s house downhill. 

“It was a very loud rush of probably 6 to 8 inches of water coming out and across the road into our yard.”

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