From Mayor Dan Drew.
I’d like to update you on our status following today’s water main break.
Our water treatment facility is like the heart of the water system and the main that broke today carries away from it massive amounts of treated water. We estimate that we lost approximately 1,000,000 gallons in about an hour. That’s a volume we’ve never before experienced.
First, I want to thank you, the people of Middletown, for your concern and cooperation today as we dealt with an extraordinary and very difficult situation. Everyone was in it together and I appreciate the sense of community and camaraderie that went with today’s challenges.
Second, I’d like to thank our water crews who quickly and heroically managed to isolate and shut the valves to the 24” main that burst on Silver Mine Road. It’s hard to overstate the pace at which water was coming out of the main and how much more challenging this could have been had they not been as successful in their efforts when and how they were.
From a technical standpoint, the loss of this main is less important than how quickly it lost water. Think of a water tank on your property with two pipes – one that empties onto your lawn and one that empties into your house. Imagine the pipe to your lawn bursting and emptying most of your tank’s water onto the lawn, leaving little for the house. That’s roughly analogous to what happened this morning. Our challenge was getting the leak stopped before we lost everything in the tank, which would have presented us with a whole different set of challenges.
Because of the great work of the water department we managed to staunch the leak and begin treating and replenishing water for residential and business use.
As of 1:30 p.m. our treated water levels in the tanks and pressures are back to normal. I closed our emergency operations center effective 1:00 p.m.
In the next few days you should expect to see milky-looking or discolored water. This is caused by either additional air or sediment in the water – all normal consequences of a water main break and the associated pipe flushing that goes along with it. If you experience this, run your cold water for 5-10 minutes or until the water is clear. It may happen again hours after it’s cleared. All totally normal.
The water is safe to drink and to use if it’s clear.
We will have additional water crews available throughout the evening to monitor all of our systems. It is possible as the pipes are flushed and pressure changes within them that we could experience smaller, additional pipe bursts. We are prepared to handle those bursts should they arise.
Earlier today, we were expecting CT DPH to be here to test water. They have informed us that they don’t believe that is necessary any longer based on tests we’ve conducted and the protocols we’ve put into place. We have tested the water to ensure proper treatment levels and what we’re seeing is all within appropriate parameters.
Because there was a risk of water pressure and levels falling lower than that with which we were comfortable, we had on hand eight tanker trucks and two hose tenders from other fire agencies throughout the State of Connecticut with tens of thousands of gallons of extra water available for fire suppression – all on standby and staged at strategic locations throughout the city.
The Middletown Health Department wrote guidelines for food service operations and our inspectors personally delivered them to every food service provider that we regulate.
The MPD was on hand to escort out-of-town fire vehicles to any emergency. Dispatch fielded a huge volume of calls.
EM provided logistical support and expertise and DPW is helping re-build Silver Mine Road where it was carved away by the 1,000,000 gallons of water that escaped.
This was a rapid and massive unified command operation that included the following agencies: Middletown Police; Middletown Fire; South Fire; Westfield Fire; Middletown Emergency Management; the Middletown Water & Sewer Department; Middletown Public Works; Middletown Health; Middletown Dispatch; the CT Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security; Middlesex Hospital; the Middletown Public Schools; the fire departments of Portland, Middlefield, Haddam, Lyme, Clinton, North Madison, Stonington, and Old Mystic; and the regional fire coordinators of the statewide fire and disaster response plan.
Thank you again to everyone for your sense of community and commitment.