ST. GEORGE – A section of Vermillion Avenue turned into a small river Saturday morning following a water main break beneath the roadway.
The break occurred prior to 9:40 a.m. and seeped though a crack in the roadway, as well as a hole created on the side on the road in front of 341 E. Vermillion Ave. The stream of water flowed down the street until pouring into a wash at the bottom of the hill.
“There was really a big river for quite while,” area resident Verna Erwin said. “We saw water coming down fast and furious.”
At least one garage was flooded, St. George Fire Capt. Dave Slack said. He and other firefighters were on scene to help keep water out of homes and clean up debris kicked up by the temporary flooding.
No other incidents of homes flooding or being damaged were reported.
A crew from the St. George Water Department was also on scene and shut off the water. Slack estimated around four homes would be effected for a few hours following the water line break.
The cause of the main break is unknown at the time, Slack said.
The Water Department needs to dig up the part of the road where the main broke in order to find a potential cause and then to repair the water line.
Other water line breaks have occurred in St. George in recent months, such as near the intersection of River Road and 700 South, near the Green Springs Spa, on 1400 South near Stone Cliff Parkway, and Main Street near 700 South. The latter incident resulted in a home being flooded.
While various factors can play into why a water line breaks, age has been cited as a possible cause in some of the recent incidents.
Scott Taylor, the city’s Water Services director, previously told St. George News the water lines tend to have a lifespan of about 50 years, and the older they get, the more prone they are to breaking.
The city maintains about 800 miles of water lines with 170 miles that may need replacing in the future, he said.
“We do have aging infrastructure and water lines break occasionally,” Taylor said. “We’re seeing our infrastructure is starting to age,” he said.
Some water lines in the city are nearing their 50 year mark.
Aging water systems are a nationwide problem, Taylor said, though St. George seems to be fairing better than some cities.
Citing a study conducted by the American Water Works Association, he said a city is doing OK if it only has about 10 breaks in its pipeline per 100 miles. By comparison, St. George has around six breaks per 100 miles.
As a way to help fund future water infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, the St. George City Council approved a $2 rate hike on monthly water use in June.
The rate increase was part of an overall $3 monthly increase that also incorporated an additional $1 charge casued by a rise in wholesale rates of water the city buys from the Washington County Water Conservancy District.
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