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Stress fracture results in water main break

by Kari Ashworth - News Editor
Tue, Nov 5th 2019 08:00 pm
Utilities was on the scene of a water main break on Monday, Nov. 4, and said it was a result of a stress fracture due to old infrastructure.
Utilities was on the scene of a water main break on Monday, Nov. 4, and said it was a result of a stress fracture due to old infrastructure.

A water main broke in front of MacVicar Hall on Monday, Nov. 4, flooding a section of Residence Drive at Lot P.

Kevin McGuire worked on the scene and explained the events that transpired.

“It was a crack in the water main; usually when the weather changes, sometimes the pipes settle a little bit,” McGuire said. 

The College at Brockport’s Utility Supervisor Jeff List said it was the result of a stress fracture on the water main pipe.

“It’s just old infrastructure, trucks driving over it,” List said. “It was a stress fracture in the water main pipe this morning around 10 o’clock; we dug it up and repaired it.”

List also attributed the stress fracture to rotted wood.

“They don’t build things like they used to,” List said. “What happened was it’s bedrock underneath and a lot of places they shimmed it with wood, and the wood’s rotted away and the stress breaks it. [Stress] broke [it] all the way around.”

Utilities was able to discover the break early because water was coming out of the ground. 

“It sprayed right up out of the ground here; 60 pounds of water pressure shows itself,” List said. “This was an easy one. We’ve had them before where we can’t find them — we know they’re leaking, we’re losing water somewhere. We actually have some pretty high tech stuff with computer devices where we listen to the ground and we can pinpoint it. We had one on the other side — we average about three a year — this one wasn’t so bad; sometimes you gotta isolate buildings, but this one was in the middle.”

McGuire said the fix should last long-term, at least until renovations are done in the future.

Utilities will begin construction on water mains in the spring, according to List. He joked that the break could have waited until then.

“I wish it would have waited another year because in the spring we’re gonna begin the North campus two utility project, where we’re gonna change all the underground utility,” List said. “They did it in the [Campus Mall] area; that’s all new, all the water, sewer, everything’s brand new, electric. They’re gonna move on to Residence Drive and from Mortimer all the way down to the old Kenyon Street it’s all gonna be new. So we’ll have to live with it until [then]. This water main has been here since the life of the college, 50 years old, 60 years old.”

Still, List explained this break was an easy one, as most occur “at the most inopportune times.” Many happen during snowy January or in the middle of night when Utilities would have to turn off the water lines. 

As both List and McGuire said, the water main is now fixed and it is not expected to break again anytime soon. 


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