EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 17, 2013

Water main break sparks wide discoloration

By Dustin Luca
dluca@eagletribune.com

---- — ANDOVER — Though the skies are clear and the summer sun has been borderline oppressive this week, some residents are seeing discolored water from a perfect storm of water woes.

A water main break on Haverhill Street, paired with a leak off of Lowell Street and the highest water demand throughout town all year, have kicked up sediment in many pipes around town, according to Chris Cronin, acting Department of Public Works director.

Anyone dealing with discolored water is advised to run their outdoor spigots until water color returns to normal, according to Cronin.

The main that broke this week was 10-inches wide and believed to have been installed somewhere around 1939, Cronin said.

Though he couldn’t recall how much of the main ultimately had to be replaced, 55 feet of the road was repaved after the break caused the pavement to lift up, according to Cronin.

The discoloration following a water main break results from manganese and iron sediments that collect on the bottom of pipes. While some of it often gets churned up this time of year due to high demand, the break on Haverhill Street helped disturb settled material further, according to Cronin.

Along with residents running spigots if they experience discolored waters, Cronin said anyone using water should conserve as much as they can these coming weeks.

“These are the two largest water demand weeks of the year, the two weeks after July 4,” Cronin said. “If people could conserve, we would certainly appreciate it.”

Looking beyond water conservation, water pipe sediment has been an area of concern for town officials. Annual Town Meeting voters approved a $195,000 proposal in May to launch a water distribution flushing program designed to clean pipes out throughout town.

Work on that program won’t start until the fall, however, because of water demand during the summer. Additional discoloration is expected when that work begins, Cronin has said.

Any further updates to the town’s water issues during this high demand season can be found at the top of the town’s website at www.andoverma.gov.