Aug 14, 2012 9:11 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Tucson Water takes preventative action on damaged pipeline

TUCSON - Tucson Water is taking every precaution with a damaged water line near Starr Pass and Greasewood.

The "preventative" work is intended to stop a disastrous water pipe break similar to the one in February 1999 which spewed millions of gallons of water 30 feet into the air.

"We had a catastrophic failure in 1999," said Britt Klein of the Tucson Water Dept. "At that time there wasn't a lot of technology in place to be able to monitor and detect the types of wire events that we're looking for...breaks in the pipeline."

Tucson Water's $50 million detection system was implemented after the 1999 pipe break. The system alerted officials on Sunday and crews have been on site draining the line on Starr Pass to relieve pressure so they can get to the damaged area, which could take a couple days.

"The data that we've examined this weekend leading up to this event here is very consistent with a pipe that is going to fail," said Fernando Molina, spokesman for Tucson Water. "So we're able to get to it before that occurs."

The water line is about 8 feet in diameter and made up of concrete, a steel cylinder and pre-stressed wire. Breaks in the wires over the weekend put Tucson Water on alert.

"When you have several wire break events happening over a 24-hour period that could be a good indication your pipe is nearing failure," Klein said. "Catastrophic failure...which is what occured here."

Officials say that once crews are able to reach the affected pipeline it could take about a week to complete repairs.


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