Salt Lake City worst water main break in decades : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Water Line Break Brings Call to Conserve Friday, August 4, 2000


Critically low water levels at the Victory Road reservoir were slowly rising Thursday, apparent proof that Salt Lake City residents were heeding Mayor Rocky Anderson's emergency restrictions on water use after the city's worst water-main break in decades.

Workers excavated the 42-inch concrete pipe near 1820 South and 3370 West Thursday to repair a rupture that occurred at about 10 p.m. Wednesday. Corroded bolts caused the pipe's break, said Leroy Hooton Jr., Salt Lake City's director of public utilities. The break was fixed later Thursday, and restrictions on water use were lifted at midnight.

Meanwhile, in West Jordan, a small water main break at 7800 South and 3900 West disrupted water service to about six homes Thursday, said Roger Payne, the city's utilities manager. Said Payne: "I guess this is the day for water-main breaks."

The pipe that funnels water from the Victory Road reservoir provides water service to an estimated 400,000 people in downtown Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City International Airport and all unincorporated portions of Salt Lake County east of 1300 East extending to Sandy, Hooton said. Salt Lake County Commissioner Brent Overson also issued an emergency proclamation Thursday, making his restriction on outdoor water use binding on any Salt Lake County residents who rely on Victory Road's water supply.

Victory Road reservoir, located just behind the state Capitol, normally holds 12 million gallons of water reserves and is 26 1/2 feet deep at full capacity. The reservoir's reserves plummeted to only 2 1/2 feet following the main break, Hooton said. But by 3:30 p.m. Thursday -- hours after Anderson blanketed local television and radio stations with his water-conservation pleas and announced a temporary prohibition of outdoor water usage -- water levels at the reservoir had climbed to almost 10 feet. The updated readings began to transform city officials' alarm into cautious optimism. "The conservation has turned this thing around," Hooton said. Anderson had asked affected residents to voluntarily curtail their indoor water use and prohibited outdoor water usage, such as sprinkling the lawn or washing the family car. With the water line's improved prognosis, however, Hooton expected the citywide restrictions to be lifted early Friday.

Ignoring any of the mayor's emergency ordinances qualifies as a Class C misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine, according to Chris Bramhall, assistant city attorney. Violators in Salt Lake County face even stiffer penalties -- a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. City officials wanted to protect their water reserves in case of fires -- hardly a remote concern, considering the wildfires burning across Utah. "This is the first time we've had a water-main break of this magnitude," Hooton said. "We've probably got record heat and dryness. It's absolutely the worst time you could have this problem."

-- Martin Thompson (, August 04, 2000

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