(NEWPORT NEWS) – HRSD crews and contractors have made preliminary repairs to the primary force main that failed on Monday and were able to stop the discharge of untreated wastewater into the James River this morning. Wastewater flows were diverted into the river Monday morning following the force main break as a course of last resort. The high volume carried by the 36-inch pipe prevented a pump and haul operation at this site, and existing infrastructure did not allow for the diversion of wastewater to another treatment plant.
Repairs are ongoing as crews continue to assess the condition of additional sections of the pipe to ensure the existing pipe can withstand the pressures needed to resume full operation. Additional work will be needed to bypass and replace more of the existing pipe to reduce chances of failure within another area of the pipeline. This bypass work could potentially require another short-term discharge or series of discharges into the James River to allow for replacement of any additional sections of pipe that may be needed.
This primary force main was originally installed in 1944 and is part of a 2-mile, $16 million pipe replacement Capital Improvement project (BHO15600) currently underway.
Approximately 29 million gallons of wastewater was lost or diverted to the Hampton Roads as a result of this force main failure.
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) emergency closure to shell fishing remains in effect. The HRSD Technical Services Division is working closely with VDH, providing sampling and testing of impacted waterways.
A signed detour remains in place while crews continue final restoration of the construction site.
Residents can expect extensive construction activity and a long-term lane closure within the affected area as pipe repair work continues.
Should you have any questions or comments, you may contact:
Leila Rice, APR – 757.460.7056
Director of Communications