UPDATE • Pipe repaired and service restored to three dozen homes
The Portland Water Bureau has replaced a 20-foot section of a 55-year-old pipe that broke early Wednesday morning and returned service to about three dozen dwellings in Northeast Portland.
After the damaged section of pipe was replaced, Water Bureau crews flushed the system and returned service to the homes that had been shut off.
Customers who had their services shut off were told to run water in their bathtubs or showers for a few minutes to clear the lines of any dirt or air pockets. Water quality was not affected by the main break and the water is safe to drink and use.
Portland Water Bureau crews shut off service to about three dozen dwellings along Northeast 69th Avenue while they repaired an 18-foot tear in a cast iron pipe that has flooded the neighborhood.
A temporary patch will be placed on the street once the pipe is fixed. The city's Bureau of Maintenance is expected to return later in the week to permanently patch the street after the pipe has been repaired.
Water Bureau officials still don't know why the pipe installed in 1956 broke early Wednesday morning. The repairs will install a pipe made of ductile iron, which is more flexible than older cast iron pipe.
Crews from Portland Fire and Rescue and the city's Water Bureau began working early Wednesday to shut off the line that started spilling water near Northeast 68th Avenue and Halsey Street.
Firefighters said the water main broke at about 4 a.m. Water began bubbling into the street and then flooded homes near Northeast 67th Avenue between Pacific and Hassalo streets.
Water Bureau spokeswoman Terry Black said that homes in about eight square blocks around the pipe break could experience low water pressure and discolored water. The bureau is testing the water to make sure it's safe to drink.
Many of the homes have drywells, which are hampering firefighters' efforts to drain the water. Drywells are concrete canisters filled with rocks to collect rainwater for stormwater containment.
Firefighters said several of the homes' basements are flooded and incident commanders have called Northwest Natural Gas to shut off gas in the area because of the large number of gas furnaces in the basements.
The 68th Avenue ramp from Interstate 84 eastbound is closed, as is Northeast Halsey Street and 68th Avenue.
Homeowners who have water damage can call the city's risk management office, 503-823-5101, for assistance.