Main break at Oak and Clay

Main break at Oak and Clay
December 28, 2017

A little over two weeks ago, a water main broke near the intersection of Oak and Clay Streets in downtown Louisville.

Before the Christmas holiday, Louisville Water Company successfully put the 48-inch, 100-year-old main back in service. Crews removed part of the pipe and installed a new section. They also replaced a 48-inch valve near Oak and Preston Streets. This valve was last replaced in December 1927. 

The road is now open but still needs to be paved. Full restoration to the area, in regards to roads and sidewalks, may not be complete until after the holidays.

On December 12, customers in the downtown area, to the south and to the west, may have had low water pressure at their homes or businesses because of the break, but the pressure in the water distribution system was soon restored to normal levels.

It took several hours to totally isolate the site and completely turn off the water in the 48-inch main. Louisville Water crews worked on more than 60 valves in the ground to turn it off. Each valve can require more than 900 full turns, and it is a slow process because turning too quickly can cause the valve to break. Often, the process requires stopping and starting again in a forward and back motion to loosen any sediment and debris that has collected around the valve.

After the water in the broken main was turned off, crews focused on restoring service to the 30 homes near the site. This was completed around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 13.

Click here for an infographic showing all of the steps involved in repairing a broken water main.

Click here for historic photos of the 48-inch main being installed in 1892 -- and details on how pipes are maintained today.