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New London pays bill to fix water main

New LondonThe City Council on Monday night got the $148,000 bill for emergency work to repair last month’s water main break in Bates Woods Park and get the city’s water works back to full capacity.

The council approved a fund transfer from a water system capital projects fund to cover the costs as part of its unanimous consent agenda.

“The break was located in Bates Woods in a wetland area. The cost could have been significantly greater if a typical approach to the problem had been taken,” Public Utilities Director Joseph Lanzafame wrote in a letter to the City Council. “A custom fitting and prompt work corrected the problem, reducing costs and down time.”

On Aug. 14, a 20-inch water transmission line burst and began hemorrhaging about 8,000 gallons of water per minute. The incident threatened the water supply of both New London and Waterford.

Because the leak occurred in a remote, swampy area and not along a roadway or in a neighborhood, there was no concern about possible flooding or road washout. But it also meant that crews had to hunt to find the source of the leak. Had it taken an hour or an hour and a half longer to locate the break, the city would have faced “a major catastrophe,” Lanzafame said.

“Residents and businesses throughout New London would have been without clean water for the next month,” he said last month.

The repairs were completed by Aug. 26, and the Water & Water Pollution Control Authority voted Aug. 28 to accept the itemized invoice and pay the bill when it arrived.

The bulk of the cost is associated with “contract services utilized by Veolia to facilitate the repair and return to service,” according to Peter Vetter, a Veolia project manager. The bill also includes $20,000 to clear the right of way necessary to access the pipeline that burst “to facilitate a faster response and more timely repairs in the future,” Vetter said.

That work is currently underway at Bates Woods Park, he said.

At the beginning of Monday night’s City Council meeting, Barry Weiner, chairman of the Water & Water Pollution Control Authority, presented Lanzafame and others with certificates of appreciation for their work to identify, locate, contain and repair the August water main break.

c.young@theday.com

Twitter: @ColinAYoung

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