No splash pad connection
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A ruptured water line that washed the dirt from beneath a sewer line and breached one of its joints created a sinkhole in the eastbound lane of West Craig Street and led to the closure of the heavily traveled city street for nearly 24 hours.
Traffic began to move freely along Craig Monday afternoon (May 21). The proximity of the sinkhole, discovered shortly before 2 p.m. on Sunday, to the newly opened splash pad led to conjecture that the two might be connected.
But Kenny Smith, general manager for West Escambia Utilities, said Monday that the opening of the new water-themed park and the evolution of the sinkhole were in no way related.
“The splash pad had absolutely nothing to do with the sinkhole,” Smith said after WEU crews located and repaired the twin leaks. “It was purely coincidental. The leak was in a three-quarters-inch line, and that wouldn’t even begin to handle the water for the splash pad. There’s no way it had a thing to do with it.”
Smith reported that the repair of an “old, galvanized ¾-inch water line” was the major issue that led to the sinkhole, which measured several feet in diameter and depth. But, he added, the leak in that line caused a secondary problem.
“Some of the water from that line ran into a sewer line that wasn’t even cross-connected, and washed the dirt from underneath it,” he said. “It then ate away into the (sewer line) joint. We fixed the water line, then researched, found and fixed the sewer line while we were there.”
City of Atmore Street Superintendent Calvin Grace was out of his office Monday and could not be reached for comment on the city’s role in the repair job. But a spokesman for the city said it was relatively simple.
“The city had to go in and fill the hole up with dirt after the leak was fixed,” the spokesman said. “The city will go back and put a patch on it as soon as we can get the asphalt we need to do the job.”
News photo by Missie Tschida