Village Hopes to See Slow Down of Water Main Break Issues

By Jeremy Coumbes on January 8, 2021 at 7:31pm

Water main breaks in the Village of South Jacksonville’s municipal water system should now be occurring less frequently.

Superintendent of Public Works John Green updated the Board of Trustees during their regular meeting Thursday night on the frequent water main breaks his department has been struggling with over the last several months.

Green says the main cause of the breaks stems from an issue with a system that regulates the main line coming from the river which supplies raw water to the Village’s water treatment plant.

“Well, over the last 6 months we have had a number of breaks on it. A couple of weeks ago we had two breaks so we knew something out of the ordinary was going on. And, by doing a little research and checking things, we had a glitch with our telemetry which, when we were losing some communications, it was letting the pumps drop out and then come back on when they shouldn’t.

So we just had to reflash the system and do some changes so that if we lost communications the pump would continue to run and not drop out like it would. So that is what was causing it. It was water hammering and that is what was causing it to happen more frequent than normal.”

Green says the telemetry system is in place to help prevent issues such as water hammer, which can and has caused continued damage in the system.

Telemetry is a system that tells it when to come on, when to go off, how much water is in the tower, how much is in the holding tanks and it communicates back and forth through cell phone to talk to each site so it knows what to do. I

If the pumps shut down and the water is flowing to town now all the sudden tower pressure takes over starts pushing the water back down the river line to back feed them and before it settles out the pumps come back on so it’s like a collision in the middle and it can be pretty violent. It will break a main.”

Green says an issue with a faulty timer on the pumps meant to regulate when they turn on and off to help avoid issues like water hammer, also aided in causing the frequent breaks in the line.

He says the recent repairs should lessen the frequency of the water main breaks, however they can never be completely prevented, especially during the winter months.