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Fresh Water, Foul Sewage

The Dripby Mark Reutter3:30 pmOct 28, 20210

Q&A with DPW about the broken water line at the North Ave. CSX bridge

Water spewing from the bridge came from a broken pipe that DPW recently detected

Above: Curtis Brown and two passers-by look at the water pouring off the CSX bridge spanning North Avenue near Coppin State University. (Mark Reutter, 9/7/21)

After weeks of silence, the Department of Public Works got back to us today regarding the water leak at the CSX railway bridge over West North Avenue.

Spokesman James E. Bentley II confirmed our reporting that the water, discharging from a broken AT&T conduit pipe that paralleled the railroad, was fed by a broken city pipe nearly a mile away.

For more than a year, Mount Hebron Baptist Church and others had complained – to no avail – about water cascading from the railway bridge onto a public sidewalk and North Avenue.

The water stopped after DPW drained the city pipe located near Liberty Heights Avenue. “This shows how difficult it can be to find the source of leaks,” DPW said. Repairs to the pipes have not begun.

Here’s the background:

Dilapidated CSX bridge undercuts progress made by West Baltimore community (9/9/21)
Follow-up: CSX daylights part of North Avenue bridge, but water leak persists (9/19/21)
A water leak falls into DPW’s memory hole (10/26/21)

“Water was pooling around CSX tracks”

Can you tell us what steps were taken by the city to stop the water leak at the CSX bridge over North Avenue.

Whenever there is a report of leaking water, DPW works with property owners to investigate. For this particular location, the water was leaking out of what was an AT&T conduit. We spoke with CSX and AT&T who then advised water was coming from somewhere else. It was then reported that water was pooling around CSX tracks approximately 200 feet southwest of Liberty Heights and Druid Park Drive, which is nearly a mile to the north. Upon investigation, we found a main was broken and running underneath the CSX tracks to the location of the bridge over North Avenue. We confirmed this by draining the water main and the water stopped. This shows how difficult it can be to find the source of leaks.

Where was the leaking water coming from? Was it chlorinated city water?

The leak was coming from a water main over half a mile away and flowing under the CSX tracks to the bridge over North Avenue. Yes, it was chlorinated.

How much water per hour or day had been leaking out of pipe (any estimate)?

It is difficult to estimate the volume with any precision or accuracy.

Did the city, or did CSX, fix the problem?

The main has been drained, but not repaired.

Who paid for the repair work: CSX, the city or joint cost sharing?

We are still conducting inspections and considering how best to make the repairs.

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