LATHAM – A failure of one of four valves that carry treated water from the Mohawk View water treatment plant failed Thursday, May 18 and ultimately caused a loss of water pressure in many parts of Colonie. The Latham Water District, which provides water to the town, declared a water emergency late Thursday, according to a release from Colonie police at 8:50 p.m.
The emergency order was put in place not because contaminated water reached the system through the broken valve, but rather the drop in pressure in high elevation areas of the town could pull air or other contaminants into the system through a vacuum effect on pipes and mains.
“We have fixed the valve and are restoring pressure, but we are now in safety protocol,” Colonie Town Supervisor said. “Testing of the water so far is perfect, but we cannot lift the water emergency until the final tests are done Sunday.”
Because of the break, the district, by law, must notify the Albany County Health department and follow a testing protocol across the town’s system.
According to Crummey, the testing takes place over two days to ensure there are no contaminants.
The problems began after National Grid requested the water district shut down the Mohawk View treatment facility, which is all electric, while it did maintenance on high voltage power lines in the area. The first shutdown was earlier in the week, according to Crummey. The work on the lines was completed and the plant was restarted without incident.
National Grid, however, requested a second shutdown on Thursday for additional work on the power lines, but this time, as the plant came back up one of the four valves that carry treated water out of the plant failed, Crummey said.
The failure caused the 20-foot deep basement of the plant to fill with water and forced crews to shut down the pumps that provide pressure to the system.
“Town employees were able to pump out the basement and isolate the valve,” he said. “Once it was isolated and that line shut down, we could begin pumping again.”
The town began restoring pressure in the system at 3:30 a.m. on Friday morning.
“We are back to pumping 20 million gallons a day into the system,” Crummey said at 10:15 a.m. Friday. “Everyone should be feeling the pressure resuming.”
Water district and DPW crews are also working to replace the broken valve.
“We are able to repair it with Town of Colonie employees and everyone has worked together to mitigate this problem,” Crummey said. “We had to pump out 20 feet of water, albeit clean water, it was a big job.” Crummey said many different departments helped with the process, not just the water department.
There should not be any long-term effects of the valve failure.
“Customers may see discoloration of water as it comes back to pressure, but that does not mean it is unsafe,” Crummey said. “It is similar to when we are doing planned flushing of the system.”
According to Crummey, there was plenty of water stored to restore the system and the water emergency will be lifted on Sunday after all the testing is complete.
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This is an update to our earlier story found here.