Severe water main break on Third Avenue

The mild weather enjoyed by central Iowans last week played a role in the worst water main break Steve Sincox, Marshalltown Water Works director, has experienced in his 19-year career at the department.

A break at Third Avenue and May Street adjacent to Diamond Vogel offices occurred at approximately 7:40 a.m. Monday.

Passersby reported water gushing above the pavement, causing water to flow at a heavy rate over Third Avenue and May Street.

The volume of water and mud flowing over the streets resulted in the closing of the intersection at South Third Avenue and East Anson Street and the intersection of May Street and Third Avenue by the Marshalltown Police Department.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the worst, this (break) was a ’10,’ Sincox said.

Sincox attributed the break to “frost movement.”

He said warm temperatures last week caused the frost to move upward to ground surface. The weekend’s cold weather resulted in the frost reversing course and moving lower into the ground, and putting pressure on the water main’s cast iron pipes, causing it to break.

Despite the break’s severity, department crews isolated and stopped the leak at approximately 9:30 a.m., he said.

Shortly thereafter, officials with the Marshalltown Sewer Department inspected storm sewers in the area which took in the heavy flow of mud and water, and reported no problems.

Additionally, all streets closed were reopened to traffic.

Water Works customers south of East Anson Street who experienced low water pressure before the leak was stopped, soon had regular pressure restored.

Diamond Vogel Co., was the only customer that lost water service during the incident, Sincox said, and he expects their water service to be restored Tuesday.

The coldest winter since 1979 has caused numerous and severe water main breaks locally and in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Waterloo, among other Iowa cities.

Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611