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Problematic water pipe plugged by Public Works crews

Got water in south Bellingham ?

A water main break in front of Varsity Village apartments on Donovan Avenue in Bellingham Thursday, August 11, 2017,left southside businesses, residents and Western Washington University without water on Friday afternoon.
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A water main break in front of Varsity Village apartments on Donovan Avenue in Bellingham Thursday, August 11, 2017,left southside businesses, residents and Western Washington University without water on Friday afternoon.

The massive water main break in the Happy Valley neighborhood that left thousands of residents without running water Friday afternoon has been fully restored by Bellingham Public Works crews.

Service was restored by 7 p.m. Friday and no other disruptions are expected, according to Eric Johnston, assistant director of operations for Public Works.

Mocha-colored water gushed like a 2-foot-deep river from the broken pipe around noon Friday at Donovan Avenue and 26th Street.

Western Washington University lost running water throughout all of campus, as did many people in the surrounding neighborhoods.

On the north side of Donovan, water spilled over concrete paths and pooled into a temporary reservoir, Lake Donovan, in a parking lot closest to the break.

Crews are now working with residents who sustained property damage from water that got into their homes. The city brought in portable toilets and bottled water for residents – as they have done at least three other times in the past three years, when a pipe broke in the same neighborhood.

The 16-inch in diameter pipe is 91 years old, and it broke in the same spot months ago, Johnston said. The pipe was recently identified as at high risk for failure, Johnston said. It was scheduled to be replaced next year.

Johnston said the repair is a permanent one, but the break Friday has accelerated the replacement of the pipe.

“We don’t have a definitive timeline yet, but this is a high priority for the department,” Johnston said Saturday. “We’ve had more than our fair share of breaks on this pipe.”

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