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displacedinMN 01-03-2013 09:56 PM

Minneapolis: 14 million gallon rupture downtown

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Minneapolis: Most water service restored after 14 million gallon rupture

A water-main break flooded a wide area of downtown Minneapolis on Thursday, affecting water service, closing businesses and snarling traffic throughout the city's core.

About 2:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3, private contractors working on a development project at Hennepin Avenue and Second Street North struck and ruptured a 36-inch water main that delivers water to a large portion of the city, Minneapolis officials said.

Subcontractor United Sewer & Water Inc., working on a six-story, 286-unit luxury apartment complex going up at the corner, cut into the line with a backhoe, city officials said.

The break affected water service in an area from the Mississippi River south toward Lake of the Isles.

But by 8:30 p.m., service was restored everywhere except to six buildings near the rupture. In all, 14 million gallons of water gushed from the broken main.

City crews worked for hours to isolate the break so that water service could be restored to the vast majority of affected customers. Because the ruptured pipe is a high-pressure "feeder" line, the city had to cut off multiple smaller pipes leading into it, some of them miles out, to create enough of a vacuum to allow the feeder to be shut off.

Meanwhile, the Department of Public Works said Hennepin Avenue and the Hennepin Avenue Bridge would not be reopened for the Friday morning commute, but might be reopened by the evening.

The city said a work crew will check Friday morning to see whether the water undermined the roadway.

Salt was spread on the roadway and sidewalks to combat the quick-freezing runoff in temperatures in the mid-teens.

The water was deepest one block toward the river, at Hennepin and First Street, appearing waist-high in places. But at the site of the rupture, residents hopped through the ankle-deep water flowing around the largely submerged backhoe on the northwest corner of the intersection.

From there, the runoff flowed to the river and spread one block westward as well. By early evening, most of the water had drained off the affected streets.

Dave Whaley stared forlornly across Hennepin Avenue at his parking ramp, wondering how he would get to his car without getting his feet wet. He said he and his colleagues at the ING Building had been watching the action below from the sixth floor.

"I'm trying to get to another business meeting," Whaley said. "We've been watching this from the sixth floor, hoping it would go down for some time. It hasn't. ... You're not any good at giving piggy-back rides, are you?"

Several bus routes along Hennepin and Washington avenues were detoured to nearby streets, Metro Transit spokesman John Siqveland said.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, overlooking
the river and the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, sent all nonessential employees home after the incident, bank spokeswoman Patti Lorenzen said, adding that only "essential" staff will work Friday. The bank's building did not suffer any water intrusion.

The city's Central Library and Mill City Museum also closed early. And the Guthrie Theater canceled its Thursday night performance of "The Servant of Two Masters." Anyone holding tickets to the performance should contact the box office after noon on Friday to exchange their tickets.

Ryan Cos., which is building the $70 million luxury apartment complex and adjacent Whole Foods Market at the site of the break, confirmed that its subcontractor, United Sewer & Water, broke the main while digging near the line.

"We are currently investigating the cause of the accident," Ryan Cos. said in a statement. "We are relieved to report that no one was injured as a result of the accident and the site has been evacuated."

Some residents in the Uptown area were dealing with discolored water.

Luule Abdi, who lives along Third Avenue near Interstate 35W, said her water started to turn a "brown, chocolate color" just after 3 p.m.

Tad Vezner can be reached at 651-228-5461 or follow him on Twitter at @SPnoir. Nick Ferraro can be reached at 651-228-2173. Follow him at

chefsos 01-03-2013 10:02 PM

Install those low-flow aerators on your faucets, folks. Might make up for the water lost in 500 years or so...

HonestChieffan 01-03-2013 10:04 PM

KC Water department would have spent hours looking for the source of a 14 million gallon leak.

GloryDayz 01-03-2013 10:07 PM

**** Minneapolis! Do they have anything that doesn't break? Now their tent will collapse again!

displacedinMN 01-03-2013 10:14 PM


Originally Posted by GloryDayz (Post 9277399)
**** Minneapolis! Do they have anything that doesn't break? Now their tent will collapse again!

Water main, bridge, dome. That may be the tri-fecta.

notorious 01-03-2013 10:15 PM


That contractor might be in a little bit of trouble.

redhed 01-03-2013 10:19 PM

Nobody called 1-800 Dig right first?

KILLER_CLOWN 01-03-2013 11:53 PM


Originally Posted by notorious (Post 9277444)

That contractor might be in a little bit of trouble.

I bet he has to watch Matt Cassel drop backs 24 hours a day for a year straight as punishment. Gives me the shivers thinking of it, what a horrible fate.

theelusiveeightrop 01-04-2013 07:26 AM

Daily unlubricated prostate exams for life for the person responsible.

KILLER_CLOWN 01-04-2013 07:28 AM

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rockymtnchief 01-04-2013 07:31 AM

Other than a gas main, one of a back hoe operators worst nightmares. I once hit a 12" water line that wasn't located and spilled about 30,000 gallons. It was a huge mess and seemed to never end. 14 mil would probably send me into a stroke.

Mr. BackseatModNuts 01-04-2013 07:31 AM


Originally Posted by GloryDayz (Post 9277399)
**** Minneapolis! Do they have anything that doesn't break? Now their tent will collapse again!

You're just pissed at everyone, aren't you?

displacedinMN 01-04-2013 07:47 AM

1 inch of water on an acre of land is 27, 154 gallons.

this was 14 million over part of downtown.

Yes, we are in a drought and need the rain. It is an expensive way to get it.

Many businesses closed last night and today.

Mr. Laz 01-04-2013 08:05 AM

Thanks for watering the lawn!!

Radar Chief 01-04-2013 08:19 AM


Originally Posted by redhed (Post 9277468)
Nobody called 1-800 Dig right first?

Close, it's dig safe.

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