Crews in Whitefish have already fixed a water main burst that left many homes and businesses without water Monday morning, but public works managers say road repairs will likely last into summer.
A leaky gasket, paired with a freeze-thaw pattern Sunday night, caused the burst, which Whitefish Public Works Director Craig Workman called "catastrophic."
"This particular break was coming up out of the pavement in a number of locations, completely flooding the road and running down the road directly into the river."
Workman says more than 2 million gallons of water escaped before crews were able to isolate and fix the faulty pipe. He estimates the repairs will cost roughly $30,000 — about a quarter of his department's maintenance and repairs budget.
The city averages 15 pipe leaks each year, but Workman puts Sunday's burst in a class of its own:
"We don’t get break likes this frequently, if ever. This is probably the largest water main break we've had in the history of the Whitefish water utility."
Workman says the city used a variety of means to alert water users about the leak and subsequent boil water advisory, which was lifted Tuesday morning after a laboratory reported that bacteriological samples collected throughout the system are safe. About 50 homes were without water for much of Monday, and some local businesses closed early. Water has been restored to all city water users.
All that remains are repairs to a section of roadway on Baker Avenue south of downtown. The road is open to traffic, but will need significant repairs later this summer to restore it to its previous condition.