Evan Thompson / The Record Two Langley public works employees use a tool to turn water back on for residents around Third Street following the fracture of a water main line. Residents in the area will be without water for a couple hours today as repairs are made to the pipe.

Waterline break disrupts service in Langley | UPDATE

A water main that fractured in Langley on Tuesday has caused headaches that could persist over the next couple of years.

Stan Berryman, public works director, said that an attempted repair of the Third Street water main on Wednesday led to the discovery that the fractured water main was worse off than what was initially perceived.

“When we opened up the entire hole, there was a service line coming off and all kinds of Whidbey Telecom cables,” Berryman said. “To redo that, you’re looking at not just a fix or replacing a short section of pipe without couplings, but a bigger project.”

Now, the city is hoping a temporary clamp preventing water from leaking will suffice until a permanent repair can be made.

“Everything is back to normal now and hopefully it will hold,” Berryman said.

Berryman said a more permanent solution may come sometime in 2019.

The city’s wastewater treatment plant, St. Hubert Catholic Church, and residential areas around Third Street like Minnie Lane were without water Tuesday for about six hours. The same group was affected by Wednesday’s repair for about one hour. The downtown core was not impacted, Berryman said.

Some residents in the downtown area and Langley City Hall reported having brown water following the reboot of the water system but it was safe to drink, Berryman said.

“We have old pipes, so some of the sediment in the pipes gets jostled and then goes through and comes out,” Berryman said. “Everybody was worried. It’s safe to drink, of course, because we test everything. It’s coloration, sediment from inside of the pipe.”

Berryman said the issue began at around 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday when a six-inch asbestos-concrete line cracked and began leaking water. After shutting off the water in the area, the city found a temporary solution by putting a clamp on the main.

“We tried to isolate it as best as we can and we did it get it fairly well isolated,” Berryman said. “That put some people out of service.”

“Old infrastructure tends to have maintenance issues, so that’s why we try to get our capital asset maintenance plans approved so we can make improvements and replace old, aging infrastructure,” he added.

The water outage was from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday. The city received 28 phone calls from residents during that time span.

Berryman said Tuesday evening the city was actively calling affected residents to inform them of the outage today, as well as placing notification hangers on door knobs.

It was difficult to determine exactly what caused the water line to break, Berryman said. He speculated that the old age of the pipes was a factor.

“They’re old, brittle lines; that’s why we’re trying to replace them,” Berryman said.