Crews narrow in on water main break

SARANAC LAKE – A section of Broadway in the village’s downtown was expected to be closed for the fourth consecutive day today as village Department of Public Works crews continue their search for a major water main break.

Village Sewer Plant Operator Kevin Pratt said there’s a chance the road could reopen today, but he didn’t make any promises.

“If we can get to (the break),” he said. “We’re hopeful. We’re narrowing in on it.”

The initial water line break happened late Friday afternoon, when a 6-inch lateral that serves the Thompson Building, across the street from Community Bank, ruptured, and a large amount of water began pooling up on the street. Several feet of water flooded the basement of the building that houses the JC Penney catalog store, Pratt said.

Village crews worked through the weekend to locate and repair the lateral, only to discover water was still leaking from somewhere else nearby.

On Monday, the village brought in a specialist from the New York Rural Water Association who used special leak-detection equipment to try and find the break.

“We started at the intersection of Dorsey Street,” Pratt said. “We located the line, and we’ll keep following the line until we find (the break).

“We have a general idea where it is, right in front of the JC Penney building. We’re assuming the main has ruptured in that area. It’s just so hard to determine.”

Finding the break has proved difficult, Pratt said, because of the depth of the water main, which is under 3 to 4 feet of frost and a foot of concrete. The village borrowed a jackhammer on a backhoe from the village of Lake Placid, but it broke down Monday. Franklin County has also let the village borrow some of its jackhammer equipment.

Complicating the job is the fact that every time the village turns on the water to try and get a better idea where the break is, the basement of the JC Penney building is flooded with a foot of water. There’s a possibility the building’s foundation may be damaged from all the water running through it, Pratt said. He also said that section of road may have to be rebuilt in the summer.

“There’s a strong possibility because as we’re tearing up concrete, you’re finding voids underneath and it’s been undermined,” Pratt said. “We’ll have to make a determination when spring rolls around.”

Pratt said he believed the JC Penney building is the only one in the area that’s had a flooded basement.

Temporary water service was installed over the weekend to homes and businesses in the area, and a boil-water order was still in effect for the block on Broadway between Bloomingdale Avenue and Dorsey Street.

Pratt said village crews are working diligently.

“They’ve got the attitude that they’re going to win,” he said. “It’s just a matter of when.”