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Water woes

Major water main breaks send city crews scrambling; one break drains water tower under two hours
Lead Summary
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Lori Sorenson

It’s been a rough week for the city of Luverne’s Water and Wastewater Department.
On Wednesday, June 24, motorists and pedestrians noticed water bubbling up through the sidewalks and cracks in the pavement on East Main Street near Loopy’s.
An 8-inch main had split open six to seven feet, sending thousands of gallons of water spilling under ground.
“Most of the time they just break off sharp, but this was a lateral break,” said Al Lais, who supervises the city’s water departments.
He said city crews were able to contain the leak and repair it before downtown businesses suffered water damage.
“I think one of them said they had some seepage, but it could have been worse,” Lais said.
The ordeal did prompt city officials to divert traffic from that block of Main Street for most of the day Wednesday and part of the following morning while repairs were made to the street surface.
Meanwhile, also on Wednesday, the city water departments suffered a major blow later that afternoon.
Crews were working on underground infrastructure at the intersection of Main Street and Highway 75 when a major 16-inch water main burst open, sending water gushing into the construction hole.
“We didn’t have the right valve turned off to the water tower, and we barely touched it and off she came,” Lais said.
Within a matter of an hour to an hour and a half, Lais said Luverne’s water tower on Highway 75 was drained — all 300,000 gallons of it.
He said water ran into the hole but didn’t spill over because it all drained into the city’s storm sewer system underground.
A good share of Luverne’s residents and businesses in those neighborhoods experienced a drop in water pressure, Lais said, and it took until Friday to get everything “put back to normal.”
The infrastructure work at Main Street and Highway 75 includes replacing an 8-inch main with a 12-inch main from Main Street to Warren Street, and hooking it into an existing one.
Lais said further complicating his work was another minor water main break on McKenzie and Warren Thursday morning
He said it sent water seeping through the surface of the street later that afternoon, but this time it affected a 4-inch main and wasn’t as major a repair as the Main Street break.

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