Water Main Break Briefly Floods Downtown Montpelier

Feb 2, 2019

A water main break in downtown Montpelier turned portions of Main Street into an icy river Saturday morning.

It’s the second major water main break for Montpelier in less than a week. Montpelier City Manager Bill Fraser said cold weather is likely to blame.

“We believe, we don’t know for sure, but we believe that heavy frost with this cold pushed down into the ground and forced the line to break, and so then the water from that came spilling out down Nelson Street, down Barre Street,” Fraser said Saturday morning.

The water eventually pooled in Main Street, where it rose above sidewalks in some areas. Though at least one downtown business had its basement flooded, Fraser said he hadn’t received reports of widespread damage.

City officials hadn't received reports of widespread damage Saturday morning, but the city manager says the basement of at least one downtown business was flooded.
Credit Peter Hirschfeld / VPR

Fraser said city work crews were already on duty doing snow removal when the main broke early Saturday, and were able to cap the leak relatively quickly.

“They’ve been able to open drains on Main Street, so the water that had flooded up has receded and gone down into the drains,” Fraser said. “And they’re out there now with heavy equipment basically trying to remove the snow and ice and get the streets and sidewalks cleared out.”

Fraser said water service has been restored to most of the city.

On Tuesday, a water main break on Elm Street temporarily displaced hundreds of state workers and forced the city to close down a school.

While deep frost from the cold weather likely triggered both main breaks, according to Fraser, he said old infrastructure could also be a factor.

“We do have old water lines, no question about it,” Fraser said. “It’s an old city, and the downtown water lines are old.”

City officials said work crews would likely have Main Street reopened to traffic by Saturday afternoon.
Credit Peter Hirschfeld / VPR