Aftermath: Lansingburgh Water Main Break

Jan 18, 2016

Citywide water restriction remains in place in Troy, where Mayor Patrick Madden tells residents to expect pressure fluctuations and discolored water following the rupture of a major main Saturday morning.

The cost to fix a water main break in the Lansingburgh section of Troy could run anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars. Residents are trying to get back to normal a day after water flooded several city streets and left a large crater in the city.

Troy's plumbing problems are nothing new. Last winter, the city was plagued with many small water line breaks and in one instance some residents went without water for 11 days.

Sunday's pipe rupture involved a 33-inch main that carries water down from the city's water plant through Lansingburgh. Mayor Patrick Madden responded within minutes of being briefed by city workers, declaring a state of emergency around 9 a.m.

The crater that remained following Sunday's water main break in Troy.
Credit WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

It was a surreal scene as streets filled with water and debris. A day later, a large crater was roped off.

The Department of Public Utilities were dispatched to the scene. A citywide water restriction was put into place. Residents were asked to limit use until further notice.

The Lansingburgh Boys & Girls Club at 113th & 4th was opened as a warming center for affected residents. Michael Manupella, the club's Executive Director, says some 20 families were taken in.   "We got a call from Councilman McGrath at about 11 o'clock. Due to the floods they needed a warming station. They came down 12 o'clock, a group of girls from Lansingurgh called the A-team. They went over to Sam's on their own money, bought cold cuts and soup, made soup and sandwiches. The firemen brought 30 cases of water in. We were here from 12 to 6. The mayor came by around 4:30 and said close up at 6, they have another one open at the filtration plant."   An attendant on duty at the Troy water plant Monday said no one stopped by for shelter or other assistance.  Seven displaced families were assisted by the Red Cross.

No footprints in the snow - no one showed up for assistance at the Troy Water Plant Sunday evening.
Credit WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

Madden, in office just a matter of days, is thankful the incident didn't develop into a larger tragedy.  He says all the streets have reopened except for a little street around the break itself. He believes the repair will entail welding a plate over the breach of the pipe.    "We'll have welders come in tomorrow and make an assessment on the pipe itself. Our initial thinking is we'll be welding plates over where the pipe failed. But that depends on what they find when they get in there. The challenge is that the breach was on the bottom of the pipe, so it's hard to see. It's a riveted steel pipe and it's very hard to replace it. It's also an odd size, it's a 33-inch diameter, not readily available, so our best bet is really to try to patch it. And the patch is good. I mean, you weld the plate on there, it's probably gonna be stronger than the rest of the pipe.

Madden says it's far too early to talk about cost, although the city council president told the Times Union she foresees repairs costing in the millions.   "We haven't even assessed all of the damage yet. Yesterday was about stopping the flow, cleaning up the mess. And restoring water to people through other means."

Damage assessments are scheduled to take place Tuesday.  For now, the city water system continues re-filling. Residents are advised they may see some dirty water, but a boil water advisory has not been issued at this time.