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Petersburg homes, businesses experience low water pressure after main break

"The shutdown was a bit more extensive than we originally anticipated."
Posted at 8:19 PM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-22 20:22:30-04

PETERSGURG, Va. -- An early morning alarm, around 1 a.m., let Petersburg Public Utilities workers know, water pressure was being lost near the industrial area.

After searching the area for the leak, they found the trouble spot off Halifax Road.

"We have a 12 inch transmission line that's partially responsible for feeding the Industrial Area of Petersburg, which includes International Paper, Boar's Head, Bleach Tech," said Ronell Johnson, with Petersburg Public Utilities.

To reduce water pressure while crews were trying to repair the damage, nearby fire hydrants were opened up.

"The shutdown was a bit more extensive than we originally anticipated," said Johnson.

For much of the area, the water main break meant reduced water pressure in their homes and businesses.

"Woke up this morning and initially it was good water pressure and then half way through the morning, it just died down. It's still there but it's just a little bit lower, so you can still function, just not as you normally would," explained Steve Eutsler who lives about one mile from the break.

Several major industries were affected as well.

"I became aware around 4:27 this morning about a water main break," said Bryan Lennox, Plant Manager for Boar's Head.

The drop in water pressure meant making some temporary changes.

"We're a pretty big plant, we employ over 200 employee's so this has a big impact. What we had to do is make some adjustments on 1st Shift. I know the City of Petersburg is working real hard to get things back in line, so we'll stand by patiently and go from there," said Lennox.

Standing by is something the Fire Department can't do.

"We have put the Tri-Cities Tanker Task Force on alert in case we do need some additional water out in the area, but we are concerned about the water pressure," said Fire Chief Jim Reid.

Once the excavation was done the problem was quickly diagnosed.

"We realized it's an older 12 inch valve that the bolts have rusted out, causing the gasket to blow out," said Johnson.

By 2:00 Tuesday afternoon, the water main had a temporary repair made, allowing business and residences to get water pressure back.

After that, Public Utilities spent the rest of the afternoon, making a permanent repair.