Drilling a passage to create space for the cables that will power the new lights at Reimer Field turned messy when the machine struck a 12-inch water main near the press box at roughly 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
According to multiple witnesses, a 30-foot-tall column of water burst from the ground, flooding part of the west side of the Tabor College track and damaging the press box.
A city employee estimated the loss of water between 150,000 and 200,000 gallons, but also noted that the water system served customers without interruption while the hole in the main was being patched. At its lowest, water pressure dipped to 40 psi — twice the minimum pressure required for normal operatio — and customers can expect to continue to have normal access to city water, he said.
The accident was attributed to the irregularity of the path chosen for the main and built into the water system long ago. An Elcon Service Inc. employee said if they had been told prior to digging that the main followed the shortest route between the two valves surveyed, the accident would not have occurred. In fact, part of the main runs at a 45-degree angle to the expected route, putting the pipe in the path of the machine.
The hole in the main — 6 inches long, 4 inches wide — was patched soon after the accident, and a significant portion of the mud on the track had been removed by 5 p.m. Wednesday.