Fire hydrant repairs lead to major work
District of Muskoka crews uncover two old, leaking water valve that were buried under asphalt, dirt and other utility lines on Nov. 26. The valves began leaking after crews fixed a fire hydrant in the Chaffey and King William streets area.
Photo submitted by the District of Muskoka
November 30, 2012
HUNTSVILLE – What seemed to be a routine fire hydrant repair turned into a serious reconstruction undertaking earlier this week.
Tony White, commissioner of engineering and public works for the District of Muskoka, said crews fixed a malfunctioning fire hydrant near Chaffey and King William streets on Nov. 23. But as they did so, water valves started blowing.
“We had scheduled a hydrant repair at Chaffey (Street) and we had to shut a minimum of two valves off to isolate the hydrant so we could repair it. But one of the valves at Chaffey and King William completely failed, so we then had to shut other valves down,” said White. “We did get the hydrant repaired and we opened all the valves again.”
But over the weekend those valves started to leak. One valve at the corner of Chaffey and Cann streets, for example, was spewing water from the ground and causing a large puddle at the traffic lights.
“They were very old valves – it’s an old part of town,” said White.
On Monday, crews had to return to the site to fix those leaking valves. It meant ripping up part of the Chaffey and King William streets intersection and digging a large hole.
Two of the valves were buried under other utility lines, causing even more hassles.
“And then we had some parts issues because they were so old. We had to send down to Barrie and get the parts we didn’t have in stock,” said White.
Crews were working until 2 a.m. Tuesday morning to repair everything.
White said there are always concerns about potential valve failures when the materials are older.
“The older these valves are, the closer they are to the end of their useful life and the greater the potential they’ll fail the next time they’re exercised,” he said. “You can take preemptive measures and replace them before they fail. But sometimes we can be criticized for fixing things before they need to be fixed because you’re spending money before you need to. But if you let things go until they absolutely have to be fixed, it can be a bit inconvenient for people.”
While the valves were shut and repairs were being made, businesses and residents in the area were without water service.
There was no final amount as to how much the repairs cost, but White speculated that it would be thousands of dollars.
And the fire hydrant, which was tagged for repairs after a routine maintenance check, is now functional.
White said other hydrants would have been close enough to the previously malfunctioning one to give firefighters access to water should there have been an emergency before it was repaired. The district had also alerted the Huntsville Fire Department about the malfunctioning hydrant prior to its being fixed, he added.
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