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Star Prairie's water main may not be an easy fix

One of Star Prairie's water main hangers broke free recently causing a potential problem for the Village.

The water main for the west side of the Village of Star Prairie has been suspended under the County Road M bridge for years.

It's been a good plan until Sept. 9, when bridge inspectors discovered a bolt was missing from one of the water main's hangers.

The missing bolt renders that hanger fairly useless and shifts the weight of the water main onto the remaining hangers, causing a potential hazard to the residents of the Village of Star Prairie.

If the water main were to fall, the entire west side of the Village would lose their water supply.

Jim DeBenedet of Stevens Engineering is the engineer for the Village of Star Prairie. He came out right away and took photos which show the separation of the hanger and its misalignment.

DeBenedet expressed concern about the situation in a letter to the Village Board dated Sept. 18.

"There are several reasons we are concerned about this situation and recommend immediate action," the letter states. First, if this pipe separates, the western half of the Village will be out of water until the main can be repaired or replaced or until a temporary connection can be made. It is our opinion this is an emergency situation and the Village must take immediate action to prevent a full failure of this water main."

The second reason for action is that the insulation of the water main appears to be of "asbestos containing materials," which is a suspected carcinogen in water and is no longer used for water mains.

The third point in the letter is that the hangers appear to be close to separating and can be expected to fail due to their age and rusting of the anchor bolts.

At their regular Village Board meeting Wednesday, Oct. 1, Board members approved a resolution establishing a potential threat for public heath and welfare of Village residents, which gave them authority to make an emergency exception to public bidding requirements to get the water main fixed.

Bob Swanda of Aerotech has agreed to temporarily fix the hanger, but the Board wanted an emergency backup plan in place in case the temporary fix didn't go as planned.

They discussed hooking up a fire hose and chlorinating the water while the repair is being done in case they need to get water to the west side of the Village in a hurry.

All water to the Village's west side will be turned off during the temporary repair work, which has not yet been scheduled.

According to Village Clerk/Treasurer Patsy Johnson, all affected residents will be notified of the water shut off before the repair work begins.

The Board also discussed other options suggested by DeBenedet for repair of the water main.

One idea is to repair the one damaged hanger, another is to repair all the hangers and a third proposal involves installing a new water main of insulated ductile iron pipe or plastic pipe on the north side of the bridge and take the current pipe out of service to eliminate all asbestos materials from the water system.

The third option would include possibly running the water main under the river. If the river bed allows, that could happen, but if it is all bedrock, the water main could not be run across the river.