New Albany city crews worked to repair a broken water main and assure water service to Baptist Hospital
What started as a landscaping project led to a break in a major water main and two days of work for New Albany’s utility and fire departments.
Monday morning, May 9, workers for the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) were removing shrubbery from the state right-of-way at the intersection of Highway 30 and Bankhead St. (Highway 178). The MDOT workers apparently realized their work was near a water main, so contacted New Albany Lights Gas and Water (NALGW) for assistance.
NALGW crews and equipment went to the location to assist the MDOT workers. While digging around the water line to remove the shrubbery, a large piece of rip rap rock was dislodged and fell onto the eight-inch fresh water main, breaking it. (White limestone rip rap rock weighs about 1.5 tons per cubic yard).
A geyser of water and mud erupted when the rock broke the water main, interrupting water service to that part of town. NALGW crews repaired the break in the main.
Then it was discovered that a second break in the eight-inch water main had had occurred in a spot that was not accessible to NALGW equipment. A private contractor with specialized equipment was then called to the scene.
NALGW Manager Bill Mattox said city workers and the private contractor worked until midnight Monday night repairing the damage and getting water service restored.
Meanwhile, water service was curtailed to many customers, including Baptist Memorial Hospital-Union County (BMH), which is about 200 yards up the hill from where the water main was broken. Because of the critical nature of the work of the hospital, an emergency water line was run to the hospital by the New Albany Fire Department (NAFD) and BMH personnel.
New Albany Fire Chief Mark Whiteside told NEMiss.News Tuesday, “Their chillers were low on water. Last night (Monday) we went up there and put water in their chillers.”
Water pressure problems continued at the hospital into the day Tuesday. “Tuesday morning water pressure at the hospital was low,” said Whiteside. “We connected a five-inch fire hose to the hospital’s water system so their system would work.”
Whiteside said although damage to the water main was believed fully repaired, the five-inch fire hose into the hospital’s system would stay in place until sometime Wednesday to assure a back-up if further problems develop.