DUNKIRK – Conservation and boil water orders are in place for the City of Dunkirk following what officials say was the largest water main break in the municipality’s history Tuesday.
Director of Public Works Randy Woodbury says the largest pipe that transports fresh water to residents burst overnight, causing Lake Shore Drive East near Deer Street to break apart due to gushing waters.
Under Woodbury’s direction, crews worked throughout the day to repair the water main.
“It happened at about midnight a 120-year-old water line below our feet, and it is made of a cast iron. Sometimes they wear out and this one just chose to wear out last night, and it was very difficult geometry of the pipe, so it was difficult to shut off,” said Woodbury. “Usually we can isolate these things, it just happened to be the largest pipe we have in the city. These things happen from place to place but this is our worst nightmare”.
Now that repairs have been made, the Chautauqua County Department of Health is assisting the city in return water service. The process involves installing isolation lines in order to re-energize the system, refilling water tanks.
In the meantime, residents can go to the fireman training grounds at the corner of Lucas Avenue and Brigham Road for free bottled water.
The County’s Director of Environmental Health Services Bill Boria says it is important for residents to use bottled water or boil it before use since contaminants may have entered the pipes.
“Samples are tested for total coliform bacteria and if they are positive to that they are further tested for e coli. So coliform bacteria is used as an indicator organism which says if that is present there could be other things, other microbes in the water that are present,” said Boria. “So it’s a relatively easy test used as an indicator that other things could be there that could be dangerous.”
He says the water can still be used for bathing and washing without boiling. The orders are expected to be in effect through the next several days.
Lake Shore Drive from Main Street to Central Avenue opened around 2 a.m. after crews completed those repairs.