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EWEB Repairs 70-year-old Pipe

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EUGENE, Ore. — Major repairs were underway in south Eugene after a huge water main break Wednesday morning.

Crews worked to repair the main break, which was about 4-feet deep at the corner of Amazon Parkway and 19th Avenue.

Witnesses who saw it unfold say the water just continued to gush out onto the streets and it looked like a river.

“By the time I looked it just started geysering and at that point I didn’t know what to do besides call the police because it was just out of control,” said resident Matthew Copeland-Wood.

Copeland-Wood who lives near the main break says it was incredible to watch.

“It was a once in a lifetime situation. I mean I went and woke my wife up to come take a look. Everything was flooded at least knee deep in the road. I mean there’s clay everywhere,” Copeland-Wood said.

The Eugene Water and Electric Board says the pipe was 70 years old. It also said it’s not uncommon to see breaks during this time of year.

“Age is a major factor. Also with this hot weather and the cool water going through the pipe that can cause a break,” said Katie Sproles, EWEB Spokeswoman.

Sproles says by mid-September the soil surrounding the pipe is the driest and warmest it will be all year.

“When you factor in the warmth of the soil and the very cold water from the McKenzie River flowing through those pipes, they can break from the temperature difference,” Sproles said.

She says the age of the pipe is the biggest factor in this break.

“A 70 year-old pipe of cast-iron, it’s important for us in this case to replace it with a ductile pipe which is more durable,” Sproles said.

There was another water main break in the same area at 18th Avenue and Pearl Street about a year ago. EWEB says the break is on the same line.

“When we do this replacement of the section that was affected last night we’ll replace about 60 feet of pipe up until the point where we did the previous replacement,” Sproles said.

EWEB says those old-fashioned cast iron pipes have a life span of about 50 to 75 years. It says they’ve been slowly replacing the old pipes since 2007.

Drivers can expect delays and road closures during business hours the next few weeks.

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