While work on a collapsed manhole at the intersection of Goetz Drive and Southtown Boulevard has been ongoing since late February, emergency repairs to the area were required this week totaling $400,000.

Sean O’ Bryan, Regional Water Resource Agency director of engineering, said during the agency’s regular meeting Monday that a 1,500-foot force main was struck by a dewatering well, causing the main to need immediate replacement.

“We were 51 feet deep when we hit it, so there is no digging to start a repair,” he said. “Ultimately, you have to replace the entire section that was bored.”

O’Bryan said previously that in order to repair the collapsed manhole, dewatering wells would have to be installed in order to remove water so work could be completed. There have been 17 dewatering wells installed in the area, each 60 feet deep.

When the force main, a pipeline used to transport wastewater under pressure, was installed about three years ago, RWRA was given incorrect information about the exact location of the force main.

“We drilled the wells based on where we thought the pipe wasn’t,” O’Bryan said.

Despite drilling about 12 feet away from where the force main was thought to be, it was struck, which resulted in the line needing to be replaced.

Joe Schepers, RWRA executive director, said during the meeting that the agency has turned over the information to its attorney in an attempt to recoup the costs of the emergency repair.

“Basically, we are already past the statute of limitations, if it is negligence,” Schepers said. “If it is a contract obligation, that statute of limitations is about 10 years.

“Our attorney is looking into both of them now and trying to see whether it was negligence or if they did not fulfill contractural obligations.”

To do the repair, which will be completed this week, RWRA will utilize a method known as pipe busting, which it hasn’t previously implemented.

“They put these cylinders through the existing force main, bring it to the other end and hook up the pipe bursting head to those cylinders and then attach the new pipe to it and pull it through the existing pipe,” said O’Bryan of how the process works.

The head of the pipe bursting tool has blades on it that will split the existing pipe while the new pipe is pulled through behind.

O’Bryan said that while the force main repair will take about one week to complete, the ongoing repairs to the sunken manhole should be completed by Thanksgiving.

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