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Repairs From Park Ave. Water Main Break Could Cost More Than $10,000

A water main break in Park City's Old Town Thursday night caused the road to collapse at the intersection of Park Ave. and Trapper’s Way and a middle-of-the-night response by emergency services and Park City utilities departments. 

The Park City Fire District was dispatched to Park Ave and 5th Street around 9:30 Thursday night. Park City police officers transported sandbags from public works to the scene to route the water down Trapper’s Way. While the Park City water department worked to fix the leak, the line ruptured and caused large amounts of water to run down the street.

Public Utilities Director Clint McAffee suspects recent pavement work on Park Ave., paired with the poor condition of the pipe infrastructure, caused the break. The mainline break temporarily affected water service to two households and a nearby business; sent debris down the hill; and caused a hole to develop in the road.

“The water broke and basically washed out the road base underneath the asphalt, and the asphalt collapsed in kind of a little pit up there," McAffee said. "There was some landscaping damage with the water rushing down Main Street—a lot of rocks and debris being carried down Main Street.”

In addition to the initial valve break that caused the main line pipe burst, McAffee says another valve broke when crew worked to respond to the incident, likely due to corroded bolts holding the valve in place. McAffee says valve breaks are common among Park City’s water system—and everywhere, really—but the pressure due to elevation also exacerbates the old system. McAffee says it’s difficult to be certain about the condition of the underground infrastructure and repairing and replacing the pipes is an uphill battle.

“You're never done—it's a constant replacement cycle," McAffee said. "What we try to do is target the highest criticality infrastructure with the poorest condition.”

McAffee says each valve break typically costs $5,000 to $10,000 to repair, but Thursday night’s break will likely exceed $10,000, due to the property and road damage. McAffee estimates hundreds of thousands of gallons of water were lost in the break, but he says that volume is the least of the City’s concerns in a scenario like this.

“Right now, we’re serving close to 10 million gallons a day," McAffee said. "And if we lose a couple hundred thousand in an emergency break, that's a large amount—we don't like to see that—but in the grand scheme of things, we're more focused on trying to restore the infrastructure and minimize public impact and try to avoid future failures that are similar to this.”

McAffee says the pipes will be repaired Friday, and the hole in the road will be filled with base so people can drive on it. Until that time, City officials request motorists avoid the area on Park Ave. and Trapper’s Way. The road likely won’t be repaved until next week.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.