published Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

AT&T crews rupture downtown water line; thousands without service

  • photo
    Water flows up from the sidewalk at the corner of Cowart and 14th streets after crews installing fiber optic cable broke a 24-inch water main Wednesday in downtown Chattanooga. Staff Photo by John Rawlston

Tennessee-American Water crews are shutting down a broken water main to allow a replacement to be installed and restore water pressure to downtown buildings with more than 10,000 workers.

But utility spokeswoman Kim Dalton said the company is not sure yet when water service will be back to normal for many downtown and Southside businesses.

A 24-inch transmission main water line was cut into by an AT&T contractor just before 10 a.m. this morning at 14th and Cowart streets.

Nick Kyriakidis, a manager at Niko’s Southside Grill, said cooks noticed the drop in water pressure shortly after 9:30 a.m.

“We looked outside and saw the water gushing up two feet in the air and we knew we had a problem,” he said.

Water from the broken main began flooding the basement, although not before crews cleared out the underground area.

“The water isn’t rushing in as much now that they have turned off most of the water main, but we still have water in our basement,” Kyriakidis said. The flooded street kept patrons away at lunch, but he hopes to be open tonight.

The water company estimates from 10,000 to 20,000 people work in buildings where water was either cut off or the water pressure was reduced after the 24-inch transmission main was cut around 10 a.m.

By 1 p.m., water pressure was restored to many affected buildings by rerouting water transmission through other pipes, Tennessee-American spokeswoman Kim Dalton said.

Dalton said an AT&T contractor drilled into the water main.

Turning off the high-pressure, 24-inch main requires some time to stop the flow of water, Dalton said.

Water line break
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“Once we are able to completely shut off the main, we can dig down and install a replacement pipe,” she said. “This demonstrates the importance of the infrastructure beneath our streets.”

Read more in tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

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alohaboy said...

Gee, did AT&T forget to call the TN One Call which I don't think they participate in.

February 23, 2011 at 8:06 p.m.
NoMyth said...

AT&T and/or its contractor should be required to compensate affected businesses, like Niko's, and not be able to pass along those costs to taxpayers. A follow-up story on the accountability for this incident would be informative.

February 23, 2011 at 10:24 p.m.
SCOTTYM said...


AT&T does indeed participate in the 811 (TN ONE CALL) system. AT&T lines get painted orange. Sometimes they even get orange diamonds. Look around next time you are wandering around downtown, you'll likely see some of them.


If you wreck your car and knock a power pole down, would you be alright with a requirement that you compensate everyone the power outage affected?

Accidents do happen. AT&T and/or the contractor(or their insurance companies) WILL most likely pay for the direct costs of repairing the line.

I agree a follow-up story would be nice.

February 23, 2011 at 10:54 p.m.
mefrom37379 said...

Nomyth, AT&T can not pass this expense, or any other for that matter, onto the customer without "guess who's" approval. "Guess who" happens to be the government in the form of the Public Service Commission and the Tennessee Regulatory Authority. The PSC and/or the TRA approve rates and all charges from MA Bell. Would be interesting to know if the PSC and TRA have any say so over the EPB rates.

February 24, 2011 at 7:02 p.m.
Musicman375 said...

I don't know if they will pass the direct costs at the scene of the accident on to customers or not, but I can tell you my employer spent a lot of money providing bottled water to the employees for three days. We weren't cleared to drink the water again until this morning because the water company needed time to test our supply to verify whether was safe to drink.

I'm sure Niko's and other businesses in the immediate area suffered flood damage as well. Will there be a follow up report on any of that?

February 25, 2011 at 1:47 p.m.
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