Utility crews expect to have water service restored to a dozen Tacoma Tideflats businesses by Thursday after a water line failure Tuesday night created a high pressure gusher near a major Tideflats intersection.
That repair effort was complicated Wednesday by the close proximity of a CenturyLink phone line housed in a wooden conduit near the break site.
Water gushed from the pipeline near East 11th Street and Portland Avenue beginning about 8:45 p.m. Tuesday after a plug in a connector for a future branch line failed, said Tacoma Utilities spokeswoman Chris Gleason.
“We still don’t know why the plug failed,” said Gleason. “We know that it wasn’t a corrosion issue.”
Utility crews shut down water flowing through the pipe Tuesday night, but repair efforts were delayed while crews planned how to make the repair without disturbing the adjacent phone lines. The utility was unsure why the phone line had been routed through a wooden conduit.
The water shutdown affected a dozen Tideflats businesses including the Rock Tenn pulp mill, Tacoma Water’s largest customer. Rock Tenn, which bought the former Simpson Tacoma Kraft mill last spring, produces kraft paper for cardboard boxes.
The mill, which employs 420 workers, was open Wednesday, but paper production had been halted, said company spokeswoman Robin Keegan. Workers will continue to be paid during the shutdown, she said.
When the water supply was unexpectedly shut off, the mill followed established procedures for safely shutting down the papermaking process, said Keegan.
The utility has issued a boil notice to businesses in the break area asking them to boil water for 24 hours after the break is repaired. Water customers in the break area were informed of the boil requirement with notices on their doors.
Customers outside the notice area should let water run until it is clear if they notice any discoloration in the water, the utility said. A large break can disturb sediment in pipes and cause water to temporarily go cloudy.
Tacoma Water posted pictures and a video of the break at this site.