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Repairs Underway On Water Main Break That Sparked Massive Dayton Service Outage

The Great Miami River is connected to the Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer, where Dayton gets its water.
Lewis Wallace

Repairs are set to begin on the water main break that led to this winter's widespread water outage. Officials say the exact cause of the break remains under investigation and has not yet been determined.

But, the city of Dayton has hired Sunesis Construction, a West Chester-based firm specializing in underground utility, water treatment plant and other environmental infrastructure projects to lead the upcoming repairs.

The water main rupture happened in February in the Great Miami River west of the Keowee Street Bridge, leaving thousands of Montgomery County residents without water or with low water pressure for hours, and sparking a cautionary boil advisory. 

“This break resulted in a rapid and massive loss of water in the system over a very short timeframe. In a matter of 10 minutes the system lost over two and a half million gallons of water the system quickly began losing excess storage in certain elevated tanks and began its draw on system reservoirs,” City Manager Shelley Dickstein said following the emergency.

Crews worked for 14 hours to stabilize the city’s water system. Subsequent water-quality sampling found no contamination after the outage.

"A water pipe a break of this size could not have been anticipated and based on its location in the river was extremely difficult to find," she said. "The amount of water lost is close to four times our daily distribution to the entire system."

After the incident, rainfall and high river levels slowed the city's assessment of the extent of the broken 25-year-old pipe's damage.

Now, Dayton Deputy Water Department Director Aaron Zonin says the city has authorized $863,000 for the repairs, which are expected to include building a barrier to isolate the pipe from the surrounding river and replacing the broken pipe.

Zonin says the project is still in its early stages and it's unclear how long the repairs could take to complete.

Water customers are not expected to lose service during the repairs. Dickstein told reporters customers would also not experience a rate increase related to the repairs, noting the city would draw from its existing $15 million infrastructure reserve fund.