St. Paul residents told tap water is safe

  • Article by: CHRIS HAVENS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 10, 2013 - 7:18 PM

Most St. Paul residents no longer need to boil water because a broken water main that sent 1.75 million of gallons of water into Lowertown streets has been repaired, officials said Sunday.

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Water main break in downtown St.Paul on Wall St. between 5th and 6th Streets near the Farmer's Market.

Photo: David Brewster, Star Tribune

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Most St. Paul residents no longer need to boil water because a broken water main that sent 1.75 million of gallons of water into Lowertown streets has been repaired, officials said Sunday.

The water main ruptured just before midnight Friday and led to residents in the downtown, West 7th and lower West Side neighborhoods being told they neeeded to boil tap water before drinking it.

"Customers can resume normal water usage,” said Steve Schneider, general manager of St. Paul Regional Water Services. “The water distribution system's service and pressure have returned to normal.”

Schneider said the broken pipe is fixed and that water testing shows no contaminants in the system. The lifting of the water boiling advisory was done in consultation with the Minnesota Department of Health.

That was true for most areas, except  two blocks of Wall Street, between 5th and 7th streets, where the rupture occurred. Although water service is working in that area, officials have issued a do not drink order until Monday morning.

Just before midnight Friday, a 20-inch main broke on Wall Street between 5th and 6th Streets near the Farmers Market, according to Jim Graupmann, production division manager of St. Paul Regional Water Services. It wasn't clear what caused the leak, he said.

The rupture caused a widespread drop in pressure beyond downtown, West 7th and the West Side across the Mississippi River, Graupmann said.

Some hospitals had to use reserve water supplies temporarily, resturants in the area had to adjust their services and drinking fountains at the Xcel Energy Center during a Wild game were turned off.

By 2:30 a.m. Saturday, the break was isolated and water to that portion of pipe cut off, he said. Full pressure was restored to most of the system by 3 a.m.

The flooding comes about a month after a more extensive break in downtown Minneapolis, where a 3-foot water main spewed 14 million gallons into the streets, damaging dozens of vehicles and closing several businesses. The Minneapolis break, which happened when a contractor struck the pipe with a backhoe, is expected to cost the city at least $325,000.

Structural damage appeared to be limited to Wall Street, Graupmann said. Salt was put down in the affected area to deal with ice, he said. When the rupture occurred, most of the water ran downhill toward the Mississippi River, Graupmann said. "It got away from the site ... so it really didn't pool anywhere," he said.

For more information, residents may contact Saint Paul Regional Water Service at 651-266-6350 or waterinquiries@stpaul.gov or go to www.stpaul.gov/water.

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