We've seen water main breaks, but this was our first where the pipe sprayed a graceful fountain

DAVID F. ASHTON - A Portland Water Bureau worker winces at being showered with cold Bull Run water while investigating the water main break on S.E. 82nd - which resembled a water feature more than a plumbing problem for several hours during the repair. Water bubbling up through pavement at S.E. 82nd Avenue and Ellis Street, a block south of Foster Road in the Mt. Scott-Arleta neighborhood, was a troubling sign of problems deep below, for responding Portland Water Bureau (PWB) crews on Thursday evening, February 21.

This water main rupture was mere feet south of a previous major break on December 15, 2016.

To assess and repair the damaged water pipe, crews shut down one northbound lane and one southbound lane of S.E. 82nd Avenue for several hours – unlike that 2016 rupture, which closed down the entire highway for more than day.

Bundled up against the wind, as the temperature dropped to near freezing, the PWB workers located and then excavated the pipe break just after 7 p.m. that evening.

Water sprayed out of the mid-street excavation as workers slid in steel trenching safety plates.

"This was due to a vertical break of a 1912 pipe," confirmed PWB Public Information Officer Jaymee Cuti to THE BEE. "That's the most straightforward [type] to repair, in most cases."

On the other hand, lateral failures, Cuti explained – such as the one on the same block two years ago – are more difficult to repair, because they require a larger excavation, complete removal of the old pipe, and installing a new pipe, before restoring the roadway. "We cut out and replaced 50 feet of pipe during the 2016 break," she pointed out.

For a vertical break, crews apply a "repair clamp" around the break to make repairs, rather than having to replace the pipe.

About ten service addresses lost water pressure during the overnight repair.

The next morning, most motorists driving over repair site weren't aware of the work done overnight; the patch was actually smoother than a great deal of the regular pavement on this State Highway.

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