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Friday, 23 January 2015 00:00

Response Time Questioned in Tampa, FL Main Break that Sunk Car

A car with two people inside sunk into a hole on a Tampa road after a water main break on the night of January 18.

Christopher Atkinson and Ashley Guzman were the unlucky passengers who had a first-hand experience of the road caving in. Atkinson recalls that the ground was cracking as they were backing up, and soon after they plunged into darkness, reported Glasser.

Guzman, who had been driving the vehicle, told Glasser she stopped at the stop sign, and before she knew it they had fallen into a ditch. Luckily, they were able to open their doors and get out fast.

The majority of the following day, work crews mended the pipe and fixed up the corner of 20th and East Yukon Streets.
Tampa’s top utility official stated that the water main is an estimated 70 years old.

One witness said the dangerous situation could’ve been avoided if officials had reacted sooner. Luckily no one was seriously hurt, reported Eric Glasser,

Another witness said the spewing pipe was left unattended for 30 minutes to an hour. If she was correct, it would mean there was a time lapse of an hour and a half from when officials received the call to when workers began repairing the damage, reported Glasser.

Tampa’s public work administrator Brad Baird told Glasser that as far as he knows, officials responded to the call promptly.

According to Baird, the water treatment plant’s automated alert system would’ve gone off if the leaking pipe had been 30 inches or more, but because it was only eight inches, a phone call to the department was necessary.

As old as the pipeline is, says Baird, it is not part of Tampa's 5-year replacement plan, but those priorities can change based on the number of issues in a neighborhood.

There was a 48-hour precautionary boil-water order in place for water consumption, but not washing, reported Glasser.
If you see a water main break in Tampa, call (813) 274-7400.

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