Boil water advisory lifted near major water main break in north Minneapolis

Road affected by water main break
Minneapolis Public Works crews work to repair a broken water main on North Second Street on Tuesday.
Kerem Yucel | MPR News

Updated: Wednesday 12:38 p.m.

A boil water advisory has been lifted for homes and businesses near the site of a major water main break Monday night in north Minneapolis. It was originally in place Tuesday morning because of the potential of contaminants to have entered the system.

On Tuesday afternoon, city officials said it could be days before crews can complete repairs to the 36-inch, cast-iron main that dates back to the 1800s.

The break was reported Monday evening near 29th Avenue North and Second Street North, between Interstate 94 and the Mississippi River. It sent rivers of treated water running through streets.

Road affected by water main break
Crews overlook damaged roads caused by the water break.
Kerem Yucel | MPR News

The city reported Tuesday morning the advisory was in place for properties along Third Street North from 26th Avenue to Lowry Avenue, and along Fourth Street North from 26th Avenue to 29th Avenue.

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Residents in those areas — which cover about 80 homes and businesses — were asked to boil water for three minutes before using it for cooking or drinking. The city set up a temporary bottled water distribution site at nearby Farview Park.

Annika Bankston is head of water distribution for the city. She said the pipe was one of the biggest water transmission mains in the city, and that the break caused water pressure to fall enough to create the possibility that outside contaminants might entered some underground pipes.

Road affected by water main break
Kerem Yucel | MPR News

She said most water systems rely on constant pressure to keep contaminants out. But that pressure faltered when the main broke.

“A boil advisory (was) issued out of abundance of caution, in response to this potential contamination,” Bankston said. “There’s no evidence at this time that contamination has entered our distribution system, and we are currently testing samples collected in the area to confirm that.”

She said testing is ongoing, and officials hoped to have results by Wednesday; the advisory was cleared since the results were clear.

As of Wednesday, the city reported water service remains shut off — and could remain off for days — in the immediate vicinity of the break — along Second Street North between Lowry and 24th Avenue, and east to the river. 

Crews work to repair a broken water main
Minneapolis Public Works crews work to repair a broken water main on North Second Street on Tuesday. Sediment is visible from water that flooded from the broken main before it was shut off the previous night.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

“That main has been serving the city since 1888. When the pressure fluctuations occur in the distribution system, there sometimes can be unforeseen defects and minor weaknesses in a pipe, and that can give way after all these years in service,” said Margaret Anderson Kelliher, the city’s director of public works.

Kelliher described the torrent of water that erupted from the broken main on Monday night as “Class I rapids going down the street,” and said it also affected some other utility lines.

A permanent repair to the water line is underway, but officials said the washed-out street and sidewalks will have to wait for warmer weather for permanent repairs.

The city reported that some homes and businesses in the city may also "experience yellow, brown or rust colored water. This occurs when mineral deposits in iron pipes are disturbed."