The Times West Virginian

Local News

June 14, 2014

Shinnston leak hits city water reserves

Fairmont crews assist utility; residents asked to conserve water use

FAIRMONT — Shinnston residents were placed under a water conservation notice Thursday due to a leak from a ruptured water line, which caused the city’s water storage tanks to fall below 50 percent.

Travis Blosser, assistant city manager for Shinnston, said the issue started on a smaller scale in mid-May.

“We started seeing the tank levels drop,” Blosser said. “It didn’t drop a significant amount. We thought it might be a maintenance issue or a small leak, so we were investigating all of those things.”

The city contacted the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, which said a boil water advisory was not necessary because the city was still able to provide clean water.

“We’re still providing people with quality, clean drinking water,” Blosser said Friday, noting that this was a case of water leaking out of the system rather than something being introduced to the water supply.  

The scope of the leak changed Thursday morning.

“We saw our tanks take a significant hit, well below 50 percent storage capacity within approximately an eight-hour period,” Blosser said. “And as soon as that happened, we called up our engineers with Stantec.”

Blosser said that around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, the engineers met them at their offices to develop a game plan to solve the problem.

“We called out the crews from Fairmont’s utility division. They have some technology we don’t necessarily have as a smaller utility,” Blosser said. “They were able to help us out on that end ... what we needed to do with the way our system works, is we had to go step by step all through the lines throughout the downtown area. We knew it had to be within the city itself, not a distribution line. With 5,000 customers, that’s a lot of lines to go through.”

So with Fairmont’s help, Blosser said they were able to find the source of the leak.

They noticed a higher level of water usage in Shinn’s Run Stream area, and had pinpointed that embankment as the source of the leak by 6:30 p.m.

“Thursday morning sometime around 8 a.m., the entire line ruptured on that embankment and essentially began pouring the water out of it,” Blosser said.

The leak was repaired by 11:30 p.m., but the water tanks were still very low from the leak.

“Our storage tanks have been gaining and making significant gains overnight (Thursday),” Blosser said.

The water conservation notice was still in effect throughout the day Friday. The tanks had refilled to near 60 percent capacity by 2 p.m. Friday. Blosser said that conservation notice would remain in effect until the storage tanks reach 70 percent.

“We’re asking people to help us out. People are able to wash their clothes and take baths,” Blosser said. “We’re able to continue to do normal routine things, but we’re asking that they can help us out with usage levels.”

Blosser said the city reached out to the governor’s office, Mon Power and the Bureau for Public Health while trying to deal with the issue.

“Shinnston would like to give a big thanks to the Fairmont utility guys for coming out to help us and using technology to help us solve the problem and getting us in good operations,” Blosser said.

Blosser said the conserve water notice was issued for Shinnston’s resale customers as well, such as Worthington, Hepzibah, Bigamon and the Tri-County Water Association. However, Blosser said that Worthington, located in Marion County, “may not be as affected.”

As of 8 p.m. Friday, the conserve water notice was still in effect for Shinnston water customers.

Email Colleen S. Good at cgood@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @CSGoodTWV.

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