WEST PARIS — A leak in the West Paris water system that has left the town’s Fire Department without water since Friday, Aug. 25, was expected to be repaired by Wednesday, Aug. 30, said Ralph Brown, a trustee with the West Paris Water District.
Brown said that the leak was discovered Aug. 25 by an employee of the water district.
“The town’s water reservoir has a specific level that it’s supposed to stay at, and when he looked at it on Friday, it was definitely lower than it was supposed to be,” Brown said. “We knew that there was a leak somewhere, but the hard part was tracking down where it is.”
According to the water district’s website, West Paris’ water source is a 58-foot gravel-packed well northeast of town off Pioneer Street on Allen Road.
The West Paris Water District maintains 226 connections.
In order to track down the location of the leak, Brown said that the water district “isolated sections of our water system” and went through the system by looking at hydrants and going house-to-house.
“We went through the entirety of the water system, tested every single hydrant in town, and then went door-to-door and listened to the pipes to see if we could locate the leak,” Brown said. “It was pretty intense because the leak wasn’t presenting itself. Nine times out of ten, you can use sounding equipment and hear where the problem is, but this leak is hiding.”
On Monday, Aug. 28, Brown said that the water district was able to narrow the leak down to “a quarter-mile stretch” of the water system.
“We’re bringing in a guy who has sounding equipment, which is like a high-tech stethoscope,” Brown explained. “Once we find the leak, it’s really quite simple to fix. We’ll dig it up, replace whatever section is gone, and cover it up again.”
Brown said that he won’t know what the cost will be to fix the leak until they see how severe it is.
Fire Chief Troy Billings said that while the town is not using water for fire protection while the leak remains unfixed, he said that the department “could absolutely hook up to a hydrant and use water if it meant saving somebody’s life.”
“Normally, when we hook up to a hydrant, it would produce anywhere between 500 and 1,200 gallons a minute,” Billings said. “With a leak, the longer we use it, the more it would put the town in a bad place.”
He said that not using water for fire protection was a “precautionary measure” that gives the water district more time to find the leak and that he has contacted West Paris’ mutual aid towns to inform them of the situation.
He added that the town’s ISO, or insurance, rating would not be affected.
“The way our ISO rating is set up, we’ve proven that our town would continue to receive coverage even if something were to fail with our water system,” Billings said.