SARANAC LAKE - Village workers capped a five-day ordeal Tuesday afternoon by repairing a leaky water main beneath Broadway and turning the water back on to downtown businesses.
The village reopened the normally busy street by 6 p.m. after the village Department of Public Works finished repairing the last known leaky section of water main.
"Repair efforts on all known water breaks under the Broadway block between Olive and Dorsey Streets were completed at 4:45 PM today," a village press release said Tuesday. "This afternoon, Village employees replaced a 20 (foot) section of iron waterline that had cracked along its length."
Saranac Lake village workers set a section of iron water main in the ground in the middle of Broadway Tuesday afternoon, repairing leaks that plagued downtown since Friday.
(Photo courtesy of the village of Saranac Lake)
Mayor Clyde Rabideau added in the release, "It was a grueling 5 days for our crews, but they dogged down the leaks and fixed them and I thank them for their perseverance under some very challenging temperatures and, now, we are all hopefully moving on."
As DPW employee Tom Strack restored water service to the Enterprise building, he echoed that it had been a difficult job.
"It was a week from hell," he said.
Chris Harrington, who owns the JC Penney building, used similar words to describe the last five days, during which his building's basement was flooded repeatedly.
"Wet hell," he called it. "It was four-and-a-half feet of water on the first day. It was worse than the floods (in the spring of 2011). Everything that was down there was ruined: parts for our machines, our photo shop machines, basic storage. The only good thing is that the boiler was saved."
Harrington said he doesn't think his insurance will cover the cost of replacing what was lost, but he believes it should pay for his cleanup costs and any problems with the stone foundation of the building, which he said dates to the early 1900s.
Despite it all, Harrington said he didn't have any hard feelings.
"There's nothing that could have been done," he said. "The line was 100-plus years old. Better that it happened this weekend than last weekend, during (Winter) Carnival. They would have had to make a new parade route."
Not everything is back to normal yet. A boil-water order remains in effect for all apartments and businesses on Broadway between Dorsey Street and Bloomingdale Avenue. It's a precaution since air got into the system when the water was shut off. Until two consecutive daily samples show no bacteria contamination, people should boil this area's water for one minute before drinking it or using it for tooth-brushing, dish washing preparing food or making ice.
The initial water line break happened late Friday afternoon, when a 6-inch lateral that serves the Thompson Building, across the street from Community Bank, ruptured, and a large amount of water began pooling up on and under the street.
Village crews worked through the weekend and were able to locate and repair the lateral Sunday, only to discover water was still leaking from somewhere else nearby.
Finding the break proved difficult because of the depth of the water main, which is under a foot of concrete and 3 to 4 feet of frozen ground.
Also complicating the job was the fact that every time the village turned on the water to try to get a better idea of where the break was, the basement of the JC Penney building was flooded.
That section of Broadway may have to be rebuilt in the summer, village Sewer Plant Operator Kevin Pratt said this morning.
Enterprise Managing Editor Peter Crowley contributed to this report.