North Loop water main that broke last week was installed in 1891 and looks like it [PHOTO]

mpls water main break rect.jpg
According to the city's Facebook page, "Water mains this large were installed in the late 19th century to supply water to hydrants along the Minneapolis riverfront, where mills were at great risk of catching fire."
The City of Minneapolis' official Facebook page yesterday posted the above photo of the North Loop water main that broke last week, spilling 14 million gallons of water onto downtown streets and disrupting water service in the area for days.

-- Downtown Mpls water main break: No poop in the North Loop
-- North Loop water main break: The day after

The pipe, originally installed in 1891, is an ugly thing, isn't it? Ugly but still effective -- other than the gaping six-foot-long, three-feet-in-diameter hole ripped into it by a construction worker, city officials describe the pipe as being in "excellent condition," according to an MPR report.

On Tuesday, City Engineer Steve Kotke characterized last Thursday's break as "one of the largest breaks we have seen in many, many years" during a presentation to the City Council's Transportation and Public Works Committee, adding that workers used a more-complicated-than-you'd-think "pinching" method to stop water flow through the broken pipe.

A MinnPost report provides details about how the pipe was patched after water flow was cut off:
On Saturday, city crews had hoped to hook up a new section of pipe but discovered that the old pipe, from the 1890s, was in good condition but was no longer round -- and therefore not an exact match for the new pipe. That delayed completion of the repairs because it required custom milling on the two sleeves that connect the old line with the new section.

Meanwhile, early Sunday morning, crews installed temporary pipes to restore water service to the three-block area.

The old cast-iron main and the new section were successfully joined Monday morning and are currently being disinfected. The line [was] expected to be in service sometime [yesterday].
While last week's break was abnormally large, main disruptions are more common than you might think. According to the Star Tribune, the city averages about 40 main breaks annually, many of them the result of soil shifts that dislodge pipes.

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