Water line break causes deluge in Town Center

3 a.m. call brings firefighters, city crews to scene near Mercerdale Park

By J. Jacob Edel
Mercer Island Reporter

A city-operated water main broke in the Town Center early last Thursday morning, flooding the Rite Aid parking lot and damaging the roadway near Mercerdale Park.

An estimated 750,000 gallons of water was lost. The city does not know how many residents lost service as they shut it off to repair the broken, 12-inch-wide iron pipe. Service was restored by 9:30 a.m. Preliminary damage estimates to the shopping center buildings are $10,000.

Bicentennial Park, the adjacent sidewalk and the intersection of 77th Avenue S.E. and 32nd Street were damaged and flooded as well.

The cause of the break is still under investigation by the city’s maintenance department. Maintenance director, Glenn Boettcher, said that breaks such as this usually occur in association with landslides, but that did not appear to be the case in this incident.

Island firefighters responded to the rushing water just after 3 a.m., Thursday, and began shutting off water valves to stop the flow. Firefighters estimated the flow was around 7,000 gallons a minute, which was stopped within minutes after they shut down five water valves. City maintenance crews arrived about an hour and a half later to repair the line. Police also responded to the scene. The street remained closed for much of the day while crews cleaned up the mud and repaired the line.

City officials urge residents in and around the Town Center who find dirty water running from their taps to run cold water in their bathtubs until the water clears. If the problem persists, call 275-7608 during normal business hours, and the city will dispatch maintenance crews to check on the problem.

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