Corrosion may have caused line break

The Wednesday, July 3, saltwater main break might have been caused by saltwater corrosion, according to both an Avalon Public Works employee and the Environ Strategy plant operator on Catalina Island. Environ Strategy is the company that handles Avalon’s sewer and saltwater system.

Excavation to perform the repairs took several hours because the break occurred near multiple utility lines, including an electrical conduit.

The Wednesday, July 3, saltwater main break might have been caused by saltwater corrosion, according to both an Avalon Public Works employee and the Environ Strategy plant operator on Catalina Island. Environ Strategy is the company that handles Avalon’s sewer and saltwater system.

Excavation to perform the repairs took several hours because the break occurred near multiple utility lines, including an electrical conduit.

“We had to shut the water off for a good portion of the town,” said Dennis Jaich, who called himself a Public Works associate for Avalon.

He said the saltwater service was cut off for the Flats and downtown area.

On Catalina, the saltwater system provides water for fire suppression and toilets.

The break was repaired at about midnight, Thursday, July 4.

The break was first reported to the city at about 8:30 or 8:45 a.m., at the intersection of Beacon and Catalina, according to Mayor Bob Kennedy.

The part that broke was a 4-way “cross” at the intersection connecting two saltwater pipelines, said Jaich. One waterline was 6 inches in diameter, the other 8 inches in diameter. The top of the cross gave way.

“The pressure just blew a hole through the top,” said David Clary, chief plant operator for Environ Strategy, attributed the break to corrosion. Clary is the Catalina plant manager for Environ Strategy, which serves many California cities including Avalon.

Jaich said the cross might possibly have broken because of water corrosion.

The replacement cross had to be shipped to Catalina Island and arrived at about 6 p.m., according to Jaich. The repair work was completed by a Jordahl Construction crew at about midnight, he said.

Jaich also said the part looked like it might have been “working toward breaking” for some time, but there was no water leak to give any warning.

“If it had broken before, we would have seen it,” Jaich said.

Clary said the break did not look fresh.

Clary said he would speak to the City Council about the break at the Tuesday, July 15, meeting.

Jaich praised the work of the Jordahl Construction crew.

“All in all, the repair crew did a very good job,” Jaich said.

Complicating the repair work: the cross broke in an area near a gas line, a sewer line and an electrical conduit. Jaich said the main concern of everyone working on the break was protecting the sewer line and, for safety reasons, the electrical conduit.

“The excavation was very slow, because it had to be,” Jaich said.

A backhoe was available for the repair job, but because of the utilities in the area, much of the digging had to be performed with shovels. Chris Bogard, who described himself as a foreman for Jordahl Construcion, said lengthy repair jobs do not happen often. “(It) only happens when it’s a big main,” he said.

While it was a main line that broke, Clary said the break was not catastrophic.

Clary said the city has installed 15 new valves in the saltwater system so that a break can be isolated and service can continue to most of the city.

Clary said the aging saltwater system is coming to the point where it needs a lot of repairs. He speculated that that was the reason the city recently raised sewer fees.

Corrosion may have caused line break