Swanton Village Council last week learned more about the private water line break that led to a loss of water, then a boil advisory, for the western part of town.
The Feb. 6 private fire suppression line break at Swanton Valley Center, 401 W. Airport Hwy., took hours to get under control and led to the loss of at least 350,000 gallons of water, according to village officials.
Swanton Fire Chief Michael Wolever told Council an alarm for the break went off at the nursing home but was turned off. “The alarm goes to Guardian (Alarm), and Guardian has an opportunity to contact the nursing home and verify there’s a problem before they call us, and the maintenance person says ‘no,’ and he did that that night. So, we have a huge issue.”
The location of the shut-off valve on the fire suppression line was also in an unusual spot, according to the fire chief. “Of the hundreds of these I’ve seen, two of them are underground,” Wolever said.
The location made it difficult to access, as Swanton Fire and Rescue crews had to pump water away from the catch basin in order to access the valve. Public Service Superintendent Neil Tedrow said the fire department was blowing the water across Airport Highway into a field.
“If we didn’t go there it just kept running back in,” he said. “That’s why we ended up closing the road.”
Superintendent of Water Purification and Distribution Ryan Yackee said at least 350,000 gallons of water was lost due to the break. That was a conservative estimate, he added.
Councilor Dianne Westhoven asked if the cost of the loss water would be the responsibility of Swanton Valley Center. Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle said the village would pursue what it legally could.
Hoelzle said discussions have already begun on where the village responsibilities end and private owner responsibilities begin.
“There were a lot of comments on the Facebook page about ‘There’s a water main break, there’s a hydrant,’” said Hoelzle. “None of that is true. There was no break in our line. There were no issues with any of the hydrants on our line. The issue was a break on a private fire suppression line.”
Employees from several different divisions worked together to get the issue under control.
“I am tremendously proud of all the divisions that were out there, everybody that worked together that evening,” said Hoelzle.
Reach Drew Stambaugh at 419-335-2010