“The seal’s right there. Originally when it burst it came off. The Water Department is on the way to shut it off,” a city employee of the General Services department told me at about 10:30 on December 18th. “They’re going to dig this all up. It just popped up. When we got here it was just a little wet. There was a stream coming down and it got bad fast. When I got here it was barely in the rain gutter.”
The water main break, at 1571 Ocean Front Street, has created a virtual river running from Ocean Front at Orchard, all the way down Cable Street, where it turns east onto Narragansett, making a right turn onto Bacon Street and empties into the gutter on the corner of Newport and Bacon.
The Water Department was on the scene at approximately 11:00 a.m. to shut it off but did not want to comment on the incident.
“I’m in the industry, I’m a water professional, so I just happen to live here,” Kristina said, “and that’s probably 50 gallons a minute we’re watching right now…. It could be a pressure spike, it could be aging pipes, it could be something that needed to be repaired and it didn’t happen. It’s an old area: when a pipe bursts, you have water mixing with the soil, and it’s going to come up wherever it can; it finds a pocket to go through.”
Water was spewing from between cracks in the street and between concrete blocks between buildings. While the water was flowing to the surface, it was also bringing dirt up with it, so the city shut down the street because it could affect the stability of the street.
“Earlier it was all coming out of the bricks,” said one onlooker. “I’m concerned about the stability of these buildings here.”
As we watched, the water started to become a little more clear.
“This is not what we want to see because now all the dirt is gone,” said Kristin. “Interestingly, my job is to focus on water technology and innovation to prevent these sort of things, and I hung up with a client on the phone and said I think there’s a water main break. [The city has] a pipe-replacement program, you can look online and find where all the pipe they will be replacing is located.”
Officials were not able to comment on how long repairs will take.