No quick fix for water leak in Oak Creek
Officials say water leak has persisted since spring
December 29, 2009
Oak Creek — The water leak that resulted in a sheet of ice covering much of South Sharp Street in Oak Creek was repaired Monday. Keeping the leak from bursting again might be a bigger issue.
Oak Creek Public Works Department employees dug into the street in front of the old Methodist church at 301 S. Sharp St. on Monday to make repairs to an underdrain that has caused the town problems all year, Public Works Director Bob Redding said.
Redding said Monday's repair was the third or fourth time the department has repaired the drain — a 4-inch plastic perforated pipe that collects groundwater and takes it to the creek north of the railroad tracks — since the spring.
The drain was discovered when the town was finishing installation of a new sewer main in the summer, he said. Redding said he doesn't know where the pipe begins because it's not in any city plans. Because he doesn't know where it begins, Redding said the department is having problems identifying the source of the problem.
Redding said the town is working on grant applications to install new water lines. Until then, he said his department will continue to monitor the drain for future leaks. As for the current leak, Redding says it has been fixed.
"It will be done, fixed," he said early Monday afternoon. "We'll be out of here, and it will be back to normal."
In addition, Redding said Public Works employees would scrape and remove the ice that built up on the street and sidewalk as a result of the leak.
The leak, which started south of Oak Street, became a problem when it began moving north along South Sharp Street, past Nancy Crawford Boulevard — where it pooled and froze causing several cars to get stuck — and on to the railroad tracks.
Redding said Public Works employees first noticed the leak Wednesday on the old Methodist church property, but they couldn't identify where it was coming from. He said the leak then began to "trickle" from beneath South Sharp Street in front of the church.
"It wasn't that bad," Redding said. "It got progressively worse."
By the weekend, the water had frozen halfway across South Sharp Street in spots and made the intersection at Nancy Crawford Boulevard impassible.
Resident Scott Wedel started calling the town's public works emergency line Thursday.
On Saturday, public works employees dug a trench along the sidewalk on South Sharp Street in an attempt to keep the water out of the street. Cones also were placed along the east side of South Sharp Street, and "Road closed" signs blocked the intersection at Nancy Crawford Boulevard.
Wedel has been critical of the Public Works Department for not fixing the leak earlier.
Redding, who was out of town from Tuesday to Sunday, said he asked his employees to keep an eye on the leak. He said they did. But, Redding added, had he been in town when water started leaking into the street, they "probably" would have dug last week to fix it.
Oak Creek Mayor J Elliott said the leak and the Public Works Department's response to it might be addressed at a future Town Board meeting.
Elliott said because the drain has caused so many issues, the town would continue to monitor it and work to find a permanent solution, but that may not happen until the spring.
"We'll get her handled," he said. "It's just a matter when we can work on it the easiest. But with this cold weather, it's tough."
— To reach Jack Weinstein, call 871-4203 or e-mail email@example.com