Weekend warriors Borough workers spend Saturday repairing water main break

By on January 15, 2014


STEPHEN SEEBER Record Express Staff sseeber.eph@lnpnews.com

, Staff Writer

Dancers work their moves during the Mini-THON event Saturday at Ephrata Middle School. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

A water main break added to an already soggy day for the borough’s public works department last Saturday morning.

At the end of the day, or days, they put in 35 hours of repair work, according to department head Gary Rynier, and then another 8 hours on Monday.

The water from the old main, coupled with a compromised sewer line, contributed to a large sinkhole at the intersection of General Sutter Avenue and West Marion Street.

Jim Bachman, of 451 W. Marion St., is never surprised to see a sinkhole in Lititz, especially in Sutter Village.

"Growing up, as kids, we used to play in the fields where they were starting to build Warner-Hudnut (which is now the Johnson & Johnson plant along Lincoln Avenue), he recalled. "We get three or four a year, big ones. At that time (the 1950s), we were told, I don’t know if its true, that there’s an underground lake between Lititz and Manheim. The Lititz Springs is fed from somewhere."

Bachman’s parents lived on Fort Ross Avenue in Sutter Village, and sinkholes were frequent in their neck of the woods. And his sister Myrna Hollinger used to see her side yard disappear from time to time.

He recalled that most parents weren’t too happy to learn their children were exploring these unstable sunken playgrounds, "but hey, we were kids."

"I’m sure it alarms people who have never seen them," he continued, "but we have limestone here, and the wetter the weather, the greater the chances are you’ll see a sinkhole."

This most recent display of Lititz’s geological tendency was relatively small, according to this sinkhole veteran.

"But it was pretty deep from what I could see," he said. "It might have gone down 30-35 feet."

As for any inconveniences for the residents, he said there really wasn’t any problem. Considering there are plenty of alternate routes to get out of Sutter Village.

Rynier, whose crew has been busy this year with snow and freezing temperatures, was out again in the Wednesday morning fog, salting slick roads for the morning rush hour.

He said water main breaks can happen for a variety of reasons, but age is often a factor. While Lititz Public Works replaces pipe every year with newer, flexible material, there’s still plenty of ancient piping down there.

"Some of its 100 years old," he said. "We find hydrants date-stamped 1903."

He said this most recent sinkhole officially measured in at 30 by 20 feet. The worst ever was about 10 years ago on Lincoln Avenue when a four inch main opened the road from curb to curb.

"Traffic was going by and the only thing holding it (the road) up was the blacktop," he said. "There’s always something going on in the coolest small town in America."

More SINKHOLE, page A14

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