Municipal workers helped fix a water main break in front of the Sexton building and two others in downtown Minneapolis on Sunday.

Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

Municipal workers helped fix a water main break in front of the Sexton Building and two others in downtown Minneapolis.

Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Star Tribune

Water main break floods Sexton Lofts

  • Article by: Pat Pheifer
  • Star Tribune
  • October 20, 2013 - 9:09 PM


A little more than 14 hours after a water main broke underneath Portland Avenue S. in downtown Minneapolis, crews fixed it and restored water service to the three buidings affected, including the Sexton Lofts, a city spokesman said.

The 12-inch main beneath Portland, between 7th and 8th Streets, broke about 4 a.m. Sunday, flooding the lower level of the Sexton building. There was not a construction project near the break,  spokesman Matt Laible said.

The cause of the break was not clear Sunday but Laible said breaks can sometimes be related to shifting soil or weather.

The pipe, which was laid before 1900, had no history of breakage. Sunday’s incident was the first, he said.

Shortly after the water came rushing out, workers were able to isolate the break and shut off the water valves in as small an area as possible.

It was not known Sunday how much water spilled due to the break or a damage estimate, Laible said.

Sunday afternoon, large hoses continued to pump water out of the basement and first level of the Sexton building. It was unclear how many people had to leave their condos and apartments because of the break or when they will be able to return.

On Jan. 3, a construction crew accidentally broke a 36-inch water main on the northeast side of downtown Minneapolis, spilling 14 million gallons of water into the streets and shutting down Hennepin Avenue from Washington Avenue to NE. Main Street, and parts of other roads for days.

A half-dozen buildings were flooded, including the main post office. Dozens of post office vehicles and employees’ personal vehicles in the underground garage there were ruined.

It took a week to fully restore water service to the affected areas. That rupture was unprecedented in city history and cost the city alone more than $325,000.

Mark Ebert, general foreman for the city’s water distribution, said then that there are about 40 water main breaks in the city a year, which is fewer than many other cities of a similar size. Most of Minneapolis’ water mains were laid before 1920, he said.

Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284

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