Water main breaks cause problems in Peters

January 8, 2014
For the second day in a row, workers with Pennsylvania-American Water Co. repair a water main that ruptured in Peters Township. This one along East McMurray Road Wednesday morning cut off water to businesses and homes, including Peters Township High School, where classes were canceled for the day. - Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

McMURRAY – Water company crews were busy Wednesday after two more water main breaks late Tuesday night, one of which caused Peters Township schools to cancel classes. Several businesses in the area also reported burst water pipes from the extreme cold that gripped the area Tuesday and Wednesday.

Repairs to a break in a 60-year-old water main along Washington Road at Braun Drive around noon Tuesday failed to hold and the line began to leak again at 11:35 p.m.

Water flowed along Braun Drive and Washington Road causing icy conditions early Wednesday, said township police Captain Michael Yanchak. Crews from Pennsylvania-American Water Co. arrived, but were soon called to another water main break on East McMurray Road at McNary Street, also in the township. Crews worked on the East McMurray Road break throughout the night until completing repairs about noon Wednesday.

Shelly Belcher, communications coordinator for the Peters Township School District, said the district was on a two-hour delay schedule because of cold temperatures. At 6 a.m. Wednesday, district representatives were notified by the water company of a possible shut-off of water service to the high school, along East McMurray Road, and the Pleasant Valley Elementary School. Belcher said the decision was made to cancel all classes in the district. Classes are expected to resume Thursday. A benefit wrestling match at the high school Wednesday evening was also postponed until Tuesday.

Police said when a salt truck from the state Department of Transportation arrived early Wednesday to clear the ice from the break at Washington Road, the truck became stuck in a small sinkhole on Braun Drive.

Peter Overcashier, director of public works in the township, said Braun Drive is privately owned and the water company would most likely be responsible for repairs.

Josephine Posti, external affairs specialist for PAWC, said the pipe that broke Tuesday near Braun Drive is a 6-inch, 60-year-old pipe. The pipe that broke on East McMurray Road is an 8-inch, 60-year-old cast iron pipe. Two-lane East McMurray Road was down to one lane because of the breaks.

Posti said there was an increase in calls to the water company during the cold snap. However, most of the calls were from homeowners complaining of frozen or broken pipes. In that case, the responsibility lies with the homeowner, Posti said.

Township police and firefighters were busy answering alarms when pipes burst in several buildings late Tuesday and early Wednesday. One building hit was Amici Place, 3055 Washington Road, where a broken sprinkler system line cascaded water from the third floor to the ground floor.

Ruth Scherer, owner of Ruth Scherer Flooring, was notified about 7 p.m. Tuesday of the break. On Wednesday, she sat in the showroom surrounded by workers, soggy carpet and wooden floor samples wondering if any of her computers were operable.

“Everything is damaged,” she said, while glancing up at the exposed ductwork in the ceiling revealed after all of the water-soaked ceiling tiles were removed.

“We’re in the process of trying to figure out what’s left.” Scherer said her main concern was mold.

She does have an off-site warehouse, so no installations were affected. Scherer is hopeful the store will reopen by Saturday.

On the floor above Scherer Flooring, the dehumidifiers and fans were humming, including in the Red Apple Reading Center Inc.

One of the managers, Karly Cianflone, said she received a call at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. When she arrived, Cianflone found some of the center’s teachers sitting in their cars in the parking lot. Students and teachers were in the center when they heard a loud noise, saw some water and the alarms began to sound.

Restoration crews were also busy attempting to dry the area and putting styrofoam blocks under furniture to raise everything above the wet flooring. Cianflone said scheduled sessions Wednesday were not canceled.

Other businesses reported damage from burst pipes, including Atria’s Restaurant in the Donaldsons Crossroads Shopping Center; My Big Fat Greek Gyro, 502 Valley Brook Road; several businesses on the portion of Valley Brook Road affected by the road construction; and a private house in the 100 block of Kimber Drive.

Pat Herold, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh, said temperatures at the time of the water main breaks and sprinkler system disruptions were between 4 and 5 degrees following a low of minus 9 to 10 degrees.

“There were no temperature swings, but it was still cold,” Herold said.

Temperatures are expected to rise quickly and significantly by the weekend, he said.



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