City officials have taken offline the 84-inch water line serving East Baltimore and downtown, substituting a much smaller line to serve area customers.
The main was shut down after it was exposed by a sinkhole that formed on the grounds of the Montebello 1 Water Filtration plant in northeast Baltimore.
Shortly before midnight, or four hours after The Brew reported that officials were worried about a potential water main break, the Department of Public Works said it had “activated” a 48-inch water main while it worked to repair the eroded stormwater tunnel that caused the sinkhole to appear.
“DPW personnel conducted water system testing, confirming no bacteriological contamination,” DPW Director Jason W. Mitchell said in the 11:45 p.m. email, referring to the smaller pipeline.
He noted that with the water diverted to the 48-inch line, “some customers may experience lower than normal water pressure.”
City Councilwoman Odette Ramos also warned constituents about the possible drop in water pressure in an email early this morning, adding “you should not be alarmed by this, as it is temporary.”
Ramos explained that the workaround line had been offline due to a previous sinkhole caused by a collapsing storm drain.
That sinkhole appeared in July on North Avenue near Greenmount Cemetery, destabilizing several rowhouses that had to be demolished.
“The 48-inch pipe was shut down when the North Ave sink hole occurred,” Ramos wrote. “It has been flushed, tested several times, and is clear to hold our drinking water until such time that our original pipe can be placed back online.”
The sinkhole created by a collapsing stormwater tunnel had caused concern about the possibility of a break in the 84-inch main that is a major source of city water for East Baltimore and downtown.
Rainy weather in the forecast today has added to concern about the sinkhole, which Mitchell said was “discovered” on Wednesday afternoon.
DPW crews yesterday were keeping the public well away from the site of the sinkhole at the northeast end of Lake Montebello, not far from the Harford Road Bridge.
“For now, pedestrian access to the area will be limited and at times prohibited,” Ramos said. “You may not be able to get around the entire lake if you are walking, cycling, skating, etc. in the area.”