Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Portales line break far from first


August 30, 2017

PORTALES — A break in a water line that left most of Portales without running water for over 12 hours Saturday isn’t the first of its kind, according to city officials.

The break, which originated in a 24-inch water line off of Lime Street, was reported at 5 p.m. Saturday and repaired 8 a.m. Sunday, according to City Manager Sammy Standefer.

The line has broken roughly five times in the last five years, Standefer said, attributing improper installation to the constant problems.

“It did not have any bedding around it. Basically, it rests on rocks and is covered up with rocks. It just doesn’t bode well for PVC pipe. The ground always moves a little, the pipe always moves a little, and it just creates a catastrophe when rocks and pipe meet,” he said.

The pipe’s position on the rock forms pressure points that lead to cracking, said Public Works Director John DeSha, who has worked on the line five times in five years.

“One of the instances was a contractor that dug through it. The other times, we were installing a valve so we could go in and isolate it if we need to. I’ve done at least three (repairs) for (a line break), but it’s something that’s going to happen with that particular type of pipe,” he said.

While DeSha said the repairs are timely and expensive, he noted that his department is equipped to handle this type of situation.

“That’s one of the things we’ve been able to accomplish over the years, is collecting the right stuff to fix this particular type of leak,” he said.

Another advancement the city has made, according to Standefer, is the installation of valves in the line which allows the leak to be isolated.

“In this case, even though we weren’t able to keep people running, we actually were able to isolate it, meaning we were able to shut it down enough to where we didn’t have to drain the whole town,” he said.

The line cannot be completely fixed unless it is replaced, Standefer said.

“We’ve put in loop lines, we’ve inserted valves, and we’re going to continue doing that until we get it to the point where if it does break, it’s easy for us to bypass and send it to another area. That way, we don’t lose such a large portion of town.”


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