POTTSTOWN — The boil water advisory in Pottstown was lifted Saturday morning and repairs to the broken 20-inch water that caused it are expected to be completed this afternoon.
Brent Wagner, Pottstown’s utilities director, said the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which has oversight over the water system, gave permission for the boil water notice to be lifted at 6:30 a.m. Saturday.
DEP required tests of Pottstown’s water supply to show negative evidence of biological contamination for two consecutive days before the boil notice could be lifted, according to the borough notice posted at 7:30 a.m.
North Coventry Township Manager Erica Batdorf reported at 4:15 that the boil water advisory for North Coventry Water Authority customers was lifted as well.
Wagner said the broken piece of pipe alongside the King Street bridge was removed overnight and a replacement piece is being installed.
Completion of the repairs was estimated for between 3 and 4 p.m. Saturday.
Manatawny Street, which remained closed at the intersection with King Street, is to be opened once the repair is complete.
The repairs were made necessary by the accidental damage to the main Wednesday by the construction crew working to replace the King Street bridge over Manatawny Creek.
Those repairs were delayed because efforts to shut valves on the main in two different locations were only partially successful, meaning the main had to be repaired with water still moving through the pipe.
Wagner said in the more than 25 years he has worked for the borough, he has never seen a break cause the loss of so much water.
“I would estimate we were losing between 25,000 and 50,000 gallons per minute when it first broke,” Wagner said. “It drained down the tank on Washington Street hill in less than two hours.”
Re-filling those tanks, which supply the pressure that keeps the water coming out of the showerhead in a nice steady stream, had to be done carefully, Wagner said.
“We had to be slow and meticulous because we only had the one feed so it put the pipe pressure up and we didn’t want to cause a second break,” said Wagner.
The water main that was broken is buried under Manatawny Creek adjacent to the King Street Bridge, beneath which the main runs when not crossing creeks.
To replace the bridge, crews have to erect temporary structures to carry other utility lines that are embedded in the bridge being taken down, Public Works Director Doug Yerger explained Wednesday.
It was drilling to install a support for that temporary structure which is what broke open the water main, he said.
When that happened, it created “back pressure” on the water treatment plant in Stowe and it had to be shut down, Wagner explained. “We had (pressure of) over 90 (pounds per square inch) in the pipes.”
Then the water plant was brought back up to pumping speed slowly to ensure the tanks remained full to make up for the hundreds of thousands of gallons of treated water pouring into the Manatawny.