When Elizabethtown resident Joan Waldrop arrived at her Red Oak Court home on Friday after a day of golfing, she was greeted with a mess in her backyard.
A water main leak located on the right-a-way of the 31W Bypass had caused a surge of water to flood her yard. The tide mark showed the water nearly reached her house.
With the water came silt that as of Monday still covered the majority of her yard where she had a decorative bridge that went over the area for storm water to flow, which was completely filled with silt, and a small mounted area that seated a couple chairs. All the pea gravel had been washed away. The water also stripped away dirt causing the roots of different plants and trees in her yard to show.
“This is just a mess,” Waldrop said Monday.
On Friday, seeing the dump truck on the opposite side of the fence in her backyard, she put on her rubber boots and investigated what was happening. She found out Hardin County Water District No. 2 had experienced a water main leak.
According to Hardin County Water District No. 2 Executive Administrator Kelli Lee, there was an 8-inch water main leaking about 200 gallons per minute located on the right-a-way of the 31W Bypass. Once other utilities properly located their facilities, crews began excavation and quickly repaired the water main.
Waldrop was concerned on who would be responsible for the damage in her yard. On Tuesday, she said Hardin County Water District No. 2 representatives came by her home Monday evening to discuss the work that needed to be done.
Lee said the district accepted full responsibility for repairing or returning the site damaged by a leak to its original condition. That will include tilling and leveling the affected ground, sowing grass seed and spreading straw. It also may include repairing sidewalks or driveways that were damaged during the repair or removing soil or silt that was misplaced from the rushing water.
However, she said restoration typically does not occur immediately following the leak repair.
“Our main priority during a leak is to make the repair and restore service for our customers as soon as possible. Once the leak is repaired, our focus shifts to covering the repair and leaving the site in a safe condition until a contractor can restore the area to its original state,” she said in an email. “In most cases it may be a few weeks before the contractor can respond due to workload and site conditions. Regardless of when the repair site is cleaned up, we always make the effort to respond to specific customer concerns as soon as practical.”
Waldrop said she hopes her backyard returns to its original state. She said she understands the leak and mess was nobody’s fault, but she was disappointed on Friday that no one from the district had reached out to let her know what was going on. She had to call them.
“There was no note on the door to say, contact us, there has been a big water leak that has affected your yard,” she said.
If a customer experiences no water in their home or if they suspect a water leak on the district’s system, they can call the office to report the issue. Lee said they accept phone calls at all hours of the day or night and always have crews available to immediately respond to issues.
Customers also can view an interactive map on the district’s website that will show areas that may be affected by a water outage. However, the map is not real time and crews physically update the map for each incident once the full extent of the issue is known.
Lee said they just ask that customers be patient when they experience an outage from an unexpected leak.
“We have staff monitoring the system around the clock and we have crews on call 24/7 who will immediately respond to issues day or night,” she said “But many times a leak in an underground water main will not come to the surface or it may be in an area that is difficult to access which makes it challenging for our crews to locate, especially in the dark of night.”
In these instances, Lee said it may take several hours to find the leak. Once the leak is found there are several time-consuming actions that must be done. For instance, crews must work to isolate the leak by locating and closing the proper valves. This action sometimes requires operating multiple valves spread across a large area that can be difficult to find due to tall grass, weeds, or leaves. Heavy equipment must then be transported to the site along with the proper repair parts. And before any excavation can begin, Lee said crews must contact and wait for other utilities to respond and locate their facilities to prevent further damage.
“Most leaks occur unexpectedly for reasons beyond our control but our employees work hard to address issues in the most timely and efficient way possible,” she said.
Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.