Troy Water Main Break: Repair Underway

Jan 19, 2016

Credit WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

City crews are working to repair a broken 33-inch water main in Troy.

The more-than-a-century-old, cast iron pipe that split open around 7 a.m. Sunday, spilling millions of gallons of water into the streets of Troy. Mayor Patrick Madden declared a state of emergency and asked residents to limit their water usage. This morning city crews dug soil from beneath the pipe, clearing the way for Troy Boiler Works personnel to prepare a plate to repair it.   

"Crews remain onsite. Fabrication has commenced on the patch that will be welded to the pipe." Mayor Madden updated city residents in a press conference carried Tuesday afternoon by Time Warner Cable.   "Our focus remains on maximizing the current flow to our customers outside of Troy and to commence repair of the broken pipe. The citywide water restriction in Troy will remain in effect. We have a limited amount of water capacity at this time. We're asking people to widely conserve their use of water."

City Council President Carmella Mantello suggests the state or federal government consider issuing bonds to help bolster infrastructure in upstate cities.   "Because municipalities like ours, we're putting band-aids on our infrastructure. It's critical for public safety, public health. Obviously, economic development, quality of life and our tax base. So I think the time is now for our federal and state reps to really address the need."

The city’s Congressman, Paul Tonko, a ranking Democrat on the subcommittee of environment and the economy, has been calling for a reauthorization of a state Revolving Loan Fund to support water infrastructure projects. He says the water main break in Troy is an example of what is happening around the country.  "The need to invest in our infrastructure has never been greater, that above the surface and below the surface. With drinking water infrastructure it's important to invest so that we can not put our communities through such financially stressful situations, cause our children to miss school or to pose risks out there that are public safety or public health related."

Renssselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino says that these types of infrastructure failures are happening much more often.  "And I would hope that this will continue to be a signal to our representatives in Albany that our localities need more funding for infrastructure to address these problems."

The break resulted in a drop in water pressure that impacted communities beyond Troy. Waterford-Halfmoon Union Free School District, St. Mary’s School in Waterford and Mechanicville City School District all closed schools Tuesday. Tuesday afternoon the New York State Department of Health issued a boil water advisory for the Town of Waterford. "Water emergencies" were declared in the town of East Greenbush and the city of Rensselaer where residents were told to limit indoor water use as much as possible and not run any water outdoors.

Officials can't promise when repairs will be complete, but say Friday is not an unreasonable target. Mayor Madden has no estimate when it comes to the cost of repairs, but says there are funds to cover those costs. Residents whose homes were damaged by floodwaters are advised to take pictures, document everything and contact their insurance companies. Fire Department officials in the affected towns say they have plans in place to handle any emergency.