Following June outage, DPW to refurbish water mains outside Poe Homes

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Image via Google Street View.

After a main break in June left the Poe Homes without water service for eight days, the Department of Public Works announced today it is beginning to replace or repair pipes, some a century old, near the public housing complex.

The project, coordinated with input from the Housing Authority of Baltimore City, will take about three months, and eventually lead to better water pressure for homes and businesses in the Poppleton area, the agency said.

DPW said the repairs will take place in phases to minimize disruptions, and anyone impacted by the repairs should receive a work notice, which will include contact information for project managers, in advance. The affected areas are:

  • Saratoga Street, between Schroeder Street and Freemont Avenue;
  • Lexington Street, between Schroeder Street and Freemont Avenue;
  • North Amity Street, between Saratoga Street and Lexington Street; and
  • Fremont Avenue, between Mulberry Street and Baltimore Street.

The outages first occurred on June 17, in what the department later described as a “complex situation.” Workers had to shut down 32 valves, including a 20-inch water main, to repair an initial break that cut off water to 1,000 homes. After repairs were completed, they realized the valve controlling water flow to the Poe Homes was broken in the closed position.

Crews then needed to fix the valve.

As a result, residents had to gather water from fire hydrants–a perfectly fine source that, DPW stressed, provides the same water that comes through faucets–and go without working showers and toilets.

Charitable organizations, city officials and local businesses provided palettes of drinking water to residents at the Poe Homes and offered facilities to use the bathroom and bathe. Service was fully restored on June 25.

During the project, DPW workers assessed the infrastructure in the area and determined that all but one of the mains provided acceptable water pressure levels, the department said in today’s announcement. Some pipes dated back to the 1910s and 1920s.

That low water pressure was cited as a reason the city had to remove recently installed low-flow toilets and replace them with old-fashioned models, per The Sun.

Now, the agency will replace the pipes or enlarge, clean and re-line some of the older ones to improve pressure.

“The result of the work will be water mains that will support residential and commercial customers in that section of West Baltimore for generations to come,” DPW said.

Brandon Weigel

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