08/26/08 — Mount Olive officials are hunting for elusive water leak

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Mount Olive officials are hunting for elusive water leak

By Steve Herring
Published in News on August 26, 2008 1:42 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Motorists traveling along the 900 block of North Breazeale Avenue today should be alert to town workers who are expected to be cutting up a section of the road in search of an elusive water leak that could be spilling as much as 13,000 gallons of water daily.

The work was to get under way this morning on the outside southbound lane in the 900 block of North Breazeale Avenue across from the
old Bobby Denning store

If that dig falls to pinpoint the leak, the town crew will switch to the outside north-bound lane. The hope, Town Manager Charles Brown said, is to use the process of
elimination in an effort to keep from having to cut across all five lanes of traffic.

The leak was discovered just over two weeks ago during work on a sewer line. A worker opened a manhole cover to see if he could get cleanout line into it. What he discovered was a manhole full of water.

The town has been unsuccessful thus far in locating the leak, making two smaller cuts in the street.

It has even brought in Mike Hill of the Rural Water Association on three occasions to utilize high-tech, sensitive listening equipment in attempt to more precisely pinpoint a area "less than two city blocks," Brown said.

The problem is that Breazeale Avenue is not only the busiest road in town, its layer of asphalt covers a concrete slab, Brown said.

The road is so busy and noisy that one of the attempts to use the listening device was made at night.

It was 3 p.m. Monday before the town got to the point that Brown said he thinks the leak has been pinpointed to a service line that runs beside the manhole where all of the water is running into.

"We won't be sure until tomorrow morning, weather permitting, since it was too late to cut the street at that point," Brown said. "Basically we will trace that three-quarter-inch service line until hopefully we find where that water is escaping. We hope it doesn't run all the way to the other side of Breazeale Avenue, but it could. It is not just a little leak, it is a lot of treated water. That is a lot of money. That is a lot of lost

The leak, he said, could be spilling as much as 13,000 gallons of treated water daily. The actual cost of the water is about $32 per day. The town has been trying to find the source of the leak for two weeks.

"Even with all of the high-tech listening equipment it is still largely a guessing game and water can do some weird things," Brown said. "It will go in some strange directions. We are hopefully optimistic that at least we have it pinpointed to a specific area now."

If the leak isn't found with the first cut, town work crews will shift to the outside north-bound lane. Working in that manner will mean closing just one lane of travel at a time.

"If (the leak) is in the first lane of traffic we can do the job in a day," Brown said. "If we have to change direction and move to the other side of the street it will take longer."

He said the town is fortunate that it can utilize town personnel to perform the work. Bringing in someone from the outside could cost $,80000-$9,000, he said.

Brown recalled a similar leak from years ago when a three-quarter-inch line spilled water under North Breazeale Avenue in front of the Presbyterian Church. The leak remained undetected for years.

Even with the concrete and asphalt the road began to sag. When town work crews began excavating they discovered a pit large enough to swallow a car.

Brown said many of the town water lines are old and that he is confident the leak in front of the church and "the one we are working on now aren't the only ones in town we didn't know about."