Weekend water main break forces Burlington businesses to close

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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Burlington officials early Monday lifted a boil water order following a major water main break Saturday that left a large area of the Queen City high and dry for two days.

For over two decades Myers Bagels has been a breakfast staple in Burlington. But as they were closing up shop on Saturday the city was put under a boil water advisory due to a water main break that forced many businesses to remain closed Sunday.

"It was the busiest day of the week and this was probably our busiest weekend since the first of the year" said Meyers' Adam Jones.

Not only were they out on a busy day of sales, but to make bagels you need clean water. "Not only did we lose our retail front but lost the ability to back log to help this week," Jones said.

"There appeared to be a substantially large break," said Megan Moir with Burlington Public Works. She points to aging water pipes for the break. The one that broke Saturday was laid in 1954. On top of that, she points to freezing temperatures and corrosion. "Any pipe that is fragile or brittle can break."

But work is being done to fix these issues. In 2016 the city passed an over $8 million bond to help improve the aging infrastructure of the water lines. This work has been coordinated with street paving as well. Since November there have been three water main breaks in the city. In the same time frame last year there were 23.

"We have made substantial gains in taking care of our most vulnerable pipes," Moir said. She also adds that with most water main breaks they have procedures so they can isolate the area and only affect a small group, but this pipe was located in an especially vulnerable area of Pine Street. "Its the location and the size that cause this massive depressurization. Typical water main breaks wouldn't do this," Moir said.

As of Monday morning, the situation is fixed and the test results came back with no contamination, giving restaurants like Myers a way to get back to work. "You never realize when you don't have water how much you do need water for many things," Jones said.

There was a concern about getting the word out when the water boil advisory was sent out. Public Works officials say that only 6,000 people have signed up for the VT Alert system and hope more people sign up.