ROCKINGHAM — City street workers on Wednesday completed the final phase in fixing a Jan. 2 pipe failure which required them to dig a large hole in the road at the intersection in front of Fatz on U.S. 74 Business.
The pipe failure resulted in the nearby shopping center — that includes Walmart and three other restaurants — losing water service for three hours last week, according to Rockingham Public Works Director Richard Haugen. The city had to dig a 10-feet-by-10-feet hole in the street to get to the tapping sleeve at issue, closing two lanes of traffic.
Haugen said that, unlike the rash of other water line issues that resulted from a cold snap that began the afternoon of Jan. 3, this issue did not appear to be weather related. The city does not yet know what caused the issue, whether pipe fatigue or corrosion, and won’t know until a third-party report comes back, which will be months away.
The rest of the city, county and even the state are seeing their water service issues ramp up as the ice that persisted throughout the weekend begins to thaw, revealing the damage caused by the water’s expansion.
Haugen said that the city has only had to repair a handful of municipal water lines, but has been called to cut off water service to more than 30 residents because of leaks caused by the freezing temperatures. He said the city has also received a dozen reports of frozen water meters.
At the county level, Public Works Director Jerry Austin estimated that his department received as many as 40 calls to shut off water service as a result of weather-related pipe damage since Monday.
Al McCormick, owner of Al’s Plumbing, said they’ve received between 150 to 200 calls to fix leaks relating to the cold weather this week.
“We had a bunch of calls while the water was frozen, but once it started warming up we got a lot more,” McCormick said. He added that because the water is frozen, residents didn’t know they had leaks until the ice thawed.
Replacing a section of pipe costs $150 on average, he said.
Paul Scholl, co-owner of Scholl Mechanical Company, said that his company has been backed up with calls to handle leaks this week, and has responded to about 36 calls.
Richmond Pines Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center suffered significant damage that required them to move patients, and is seeking bids to repair the issue, according to a spokesperson for the nursing home who declined further comment.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]