An excavator piles brush pulled from the banks of Peabody Creek near Ninth Street in Port Angeles on Wednesday to gain access to a broken water main beneath the creek bed. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

An excavator piles brush pulled from the banks of Peabody Creek near Ninth Street in Port Angeles on Wednesday to gain access to a broken water main beneath the creek bed. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles water line repairs to cost $55,000

PORT ANGELES — A cast-iron potable water main ruptured Tuesday night, exposing a leak in a stormwater pipe below it and prompting City Manager Dan McKeen to sign an emergency declaration Wednesday authorizing $55,000 in repairs.

The water main threads down Peabody Creek Ravine at Ninth and Race streets.

The fissure left seven homes without drinking water — which is expected to be fixed by this morning — and a stormwater pipe that is leaking rainwater above the stream, Public Works and Utilities Director Craig Fulton said Wednesday.

Water from the main washed soil from the stormwater pipe, exposing a separation of two pipe connections where stormwater was leaking out Wednesday afternoon, Fulton said.

The stormwater pipe is located 10 to 15 feet below the water main.

The water main break was discovered at 9 p.m. Tuesday after fluctuations were detected in water-flow data around Ninth and Race streets at a ravine where the streets dead-end at the creek, he said.

The main is buried about 20 feet into the ravine’s flank, Fulton said.

The emergency declaration allowed McKeen to sign a contract with Interwest Construction Inc. of Burlington to make up to $55,000 of repairs, an expenditure the City Council will review at its next meeting Jan. 17, Fulton said.

McKeen did not return a call for comment late Wednesday afternoon.

The water main goes down the Peabody Creek Ravine, under Peabody Creek, which empties into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and up the other side of the ravine at least a mile from the Strait, Fulton said.

Fulton did not know Wednesday afternoon how much stormwater leaking out of the stormwater pipe but was confident it wasn’t much.

He did not know if it was leaking into the soil or making its way to Peabody Creek, which bears cutthroat trout, Ed Chadd of Streamkeepers of Clallam County said Wednesday.

Fulton said the flow from the stormwater pipe was minimal.

“There’s not a whole lot of flow, but it’s something we want to seal up,” he said.

“They have to look at the pipe to see if the separation of the two pipe pieces is fresh or was there for a while.”

Fulton said residents of the seven homes that lost water service were provided with drinking water by the city Wednesday and should have potable water flowing from their spigots by this morning.

The city purchased a 14-inch valve Wednesday that was to be installed Wednesday night to allow water to be rerouted to the seven customers who lost service, he said.

City workers “will be working however long it takes to get that valve in,” Fulton said.

The stormwater line was the city’s main concern and will be repaired first, he said.

It will be several days before the stormwater line is repaired and the water main is fully functional, Fulton said.

The water main is buried about 20 feet.

“There’s a lot of exploration we have to do to get a good handle on what we’re facing,” Fulton said.

“There’s a lot that is undetermined until we excavate and see what the issue is.

“I’m guessing the age of the [water main] is the issue.”

He didn’t know how old the main is.

Repairs were delayed until Wednesday morning due to safety concerns posed by excavating and repairing the break in the dark.

________

Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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