Last Sunday afternoon, Bethel Housing residents were surprised when their water abruptly shut off. The shutdown started around 4:30 or 5:00 p.m. and lasted about 90 minutes. According to City Public Works Director Bill Arnold, a fitting on one of the pipes broke on the Bethel Heights water treatment plant’s main line, and workers had to shut the plant down briefly to fix it.
This is at least the third time in a week that the city has shut off the water at the plant on Ridgecrest Drive. Last Thursday night, a valve controlling the flow of the water at the plant broke during a power outage. And Arnold said that the plant’s 90-minute shutdown on Sunday was actually the second one that day. They had to shut the water off earlier for about 10 minutes, when one of Arnold's relatives just happened to be in the shower. He said he got an earful about that one.
While none of these shutdowns have lasted very long, Arnold said they could happen again. "That's hard telling," he said. "I mean the system’s old. Things are breaking."
The city is looking for funding to replace all the piping in housing, he said. The rusting pipes at the Bethel Heights water treatment plant are 38 years old, and they have an estimated design life of 30 years.
The plant’s water line services Housing, the Bethel Schools and Ptarmigan Street until the Owl Street area.