Behind the scenes of the extensive work to restore Newark’s water mains

A major effort is underway to restore the water mains, part of Newark’s water system built in the late 1800s.

News 12’s Brian Donohue takes a behind-the-scenes look at the repairs being made after a water main break.

Luis Barajona of Newark saws a metal hump from the 36-inch water main that was laid here when Grover Cleveland was president, mud 15 feet below Branch Brook Park. I’m in Newark resident Jose Perriera cut a section of this newly made replacement pipe to make sure it would fit the section made in 1887. Perriera’s boss is Pedro Lousado, a Newark resident who ponders the issues these gaskets must hold together. The gasket provided by the Passaic Valley Sewage Authority is 5 mm too wide.

A pipe this gigantic may seem like nothing, but it’s part of a system that pumps millions of gallons of water a day. Residents are well aware that a few millimeters means disaster. That’s why it hit the place two weeks ago, when a water main broke on the hottest day of the year, turning roads into rivers and cutting water for thousands of Newark residents for a day.

Repair work on a section of an old system shows you suddenly realizing that parts don’t fit and having to run to the Home Depot, much like fixing plumbing in an old house. Everything is much bigger: pipes, costs and of course stakes.

The Newark Water Authority is taking advantage of the opportunity created by this disruption to install new valves that will allow the flow to be easily diverted should another incident occur someday downstream.

All parties want the new section of pipe to last 135 years or more.

The city will soon solicit bids for a new project to replace 15,000 feet of water mains each year.

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