BRADFORD, Pa. (WIVB) — Officials and engineers in Bradford, Pennsylvania are working around the clock to repair a section of a cracked pipe which has thrown the city into a state of emergency. Crews put a new pipe in place to fix the massive water main break, but it could still be days before people have access to water.
“Now that we have it effectively fixed, the idea would be to have our storage facilities back up again with water, so that we have water for fire protection and public use,” said Bradford City Water Authority Executive Director Kim Benjamin.
Officials say a stretch of a 24-inch pipe completely cracked in half on Monday. That pipe feeds the water treatment plant which then supplies the city with clean water. There’s no longer any water in the city, nor is there any pressure in the pipes. Bradford has two large tanks which feed the city’s water use, one three million gallon tank and one two million gallon tank. Both were officially depleted within less than 24 hours.
Authorities realized the pipe burst late Monday and called the State of Emergency designation Tuesday. They say it took a long time to get to the pipe because it was encrusted in concrete, and they had to break through to free the pipe.
The lack of water has shut down businesses, universities and schools in the area. It shut down the University of Pittsburgh’s Bradford location and Bradford School District schools. It also shut down Zippo, and some water-related businesses.
All emergency personnel are working around the clock, and officials say firefighters filled their tankers to be able to fight any fires that may pop up. They also said trucks are routinely bringing in shipments of water into stores like Tops and Walmart, so there is no bottled water shortage.
“We don’t want people to become frantic,” a Bradford police official said. “It’s being addressed and water is being brought in quantity to the city.”
Bradford Police say several groups are working around the clock to service residents through the emergency. They say McKean’s Emergency Services, Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management Agency, Red Cross and the Salvation army have all set up and are helping residents.
Officials didn’t say when the pipe would be officially repaired, but did tell News 4 that a new section of pipe was cut in the afternoon and was installed just before 6 p.m. They say they’ll work on getting it up and running around the clock, but even if the pipe is repaired before dawn, a boil water order will remain in effect until daily tests repeatedly come out with an acceptable bacteria count for city water.
Police did caution those who live in the city about frozen pipes. Since there’s no water pressure, there is an opportunity for pipes to freeze, as many still have a quantity of sitting water. They say although there isn’t a lot residents can do, they can attempt to keep their pipes warm to help avoid a freeze.