water main break

A city worker climbed down into the 10-foot-deep hole dug by the backhoe to finish by hand uncovering the broken 6-inch water main on South McKinley Avenue in southeast Pierre on Thursday, July 11. About a half-dozen city water customers were out of water during the hours-long repair, said Lynn Patton, construction and operations manager for the city. (Stephen Lee/Capital Journal)

A water main broke open Thursday in southeast Pierre not far from the Missouri River and a city crew worked most of the day fixing it.

A crew of city workers with a backhoe dug a deep hole to uncover the broken, 6-inch pipe, pumping out the water leaking from the pipe and filling the hole, which appeared to be about 10 feet below the street surface.

It happened on McKinley Avenue near its intersection with Cleveland Avenue, east of the Oahe Softball Complex and southwest of the Pierre Indian Learning Center.

The “ductile” pipe was new when it was installed in 1977 just before this part of town was developed, said Lynn Patton, construction and operations manager for the city. “If we didn’t have such corrosive soils, that would still be a new pipe,” he told the Capital Journal. Pierre’s special mix of shale and other elements in the soil cut into the life of iron pipe in the ground, whether the older, more brittle cast iron or the newer “ductile,” which has nickel and other metals added in to give the pipe some flexibility, Patton said.

The break likely would be repaired using a piece of PVC connected by stainless-steel sleeves after the bad part of the old pipe was cut out, Patton said.

The neighborhood around the Cleveland and McKinley avenues was built in the 1970s and this corroded pipe was newly installed in 1977, city records show, Patton said.

It appeared only about a half-dozen customers along that avenue were out of water during the fix, Patton said. If a nearby shut-off valve didn’t work properly, it might mean another half-dozen residences out of water during the repair time, he said.

Most of the city’s water mains are about 6 feet underground but this one appeared to be closer to 10 feet below the street’s surface.

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