Downtown water main breaks, is fixed

A break in a cast-iron water main line disrupted city water service in the Homer downtown area on Monday and Tuesday. City crews have repaired the line, and service should be back to normal, said Public Works Director Carey Meyer.

“By the end of today we should have mains flushed and pressure restored to its normal pressures,” he said on Tuesday.

The break happened in a portion of the line along Pioneer Avenue between Svedlund and Main Streets. It affected customers north of Pioneer Avenue and between Heath Street and West Hill Road. East End Road, the Homer Spit, Old Town and the Beluga Lake areas were not affected.

Public Works got reports of colored water and fluctuating pressure, Meyer said. The cast-iron pipe broke laterally in a spiral fracture.

“It was kind of an ugly break, a lot more water lost out of the pipe than we normally encounter,” Meyer said. “It stirred up the system a little bit.”

Water safety wasn’t affected by sediment, he said. Crews repaired the 8-inch diameter pipe by digging it up, removing the broken section and splicing in a new piece. Sediment was flushed out by opening up fire hydrants. 

Meyer didn’t know the exact cause of the break, but said older cast-iron pipe is more susceptible to ground stresses and can break over time. High-density polyethylene pipe used today is more flexible and less susceptible to ground heaving and freezing. The warm fall and lack of ground frost made repairs easier, Meyer said.

Customers who see cloudy water can clear pipes by running a faucet tap for 5 to 10 minutes, Meyer said. On Tuesday he said there hadn’t been as many reports of silty water.

“I think the issue has been resolved,” he said.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at