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Another day, another water main leak

Staff writer

Nobody’s water service was disrupted, but city crews spent three hours repairing damage and rebuilding the street after Wichita-based Wilks Underground Utilities bored into a water main Sept. 1 at Main and Coble Sts.

Wilks does directional boring, trenching, plowing, and excavation and was on a job for AT&T.

A crew was boring done north along the west side of Coble St. from Marion Manufacturing across Main St. for installation of cable to a vault between sidewalk and curb in front of the Farm Bureau building.

Chad Davis, owner of Wilks, said the city did not accurately mark location lines for water mains.

“It was like 40 inches,” Davis said. “That’s quite a bit out of the two-foot window.”

City administrator Roger Holter disagreed. Markings in the area seemed to support Holter’s contention.

The borer hit the water main at 3:30 p.m., just as kids were getting out of school. This caused more traffic disruption than would have happened at another time of day.

The need for a postal truck to be towed after its U-joint went out on Main St. caused even more disruption while crews worked to repair the leaking water line and street.

Holter said Wilks workers were ahead of their timeline for the boring work. When a company is going to bore on Kansas Department of Transportation land — which Main St. is — it must get approval from KDOT.

A project approval had been requested but not yet granted when Wilks workers started the job.

“We just received the permit for KDOT approval this morning,” Holter said Thursday.

KDOT area superintendent Kevin Jirak concurred that the permit still was being processed and that the Wilks company should have waited for approval before boring.

“It’s gotten well ahead of the established process,” Holter said.

Holter said Wilks employees were boring four feet below the pavement when they hit the water line and were supposed to be boring six feet below the pavement.

Holter said the contractor punched into the water main twice. When the borer first struck the main, the operator thought it was something else and backed up before he bored forward again and punched into the main a second time, Holter said.

The main was patched and reburied, and the street was opened for traffic by 6:30 p.m., but the line was seeping Thursday morning, and city crews had to make repairs again.

Holter estimated cost of work to repair the water main would exceed $5,000.

“Their insurance company is going to have to work this out,” he said. “We’ll file a claim on this, including the damage to the asphalt pavement.”

Holter said Wilks employees, in a spirit of cooperation, began excavating asphalt before city crews arrived.

“I was proud of everyone for working so hard to get it fixed,” Holter said. “Among the workers there, there was no adversarial position. There was not anybody blaming anybody.

The Wilks team was actively engaged in helping with the repair.”

Last modified Sept. 9, 2021

 

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