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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

1890-2016

There it was, beneath Luzerne Street in West Pittston since 1890.

It was installed when Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President of the United States.  It performed day and night.  Flawlessly.  Trouble free for 126 years.  Delivering drinking water, bath water, toilet water...

It was the 20 inch main that supplied water to a big section of the west side of the Wyoming Valley.

It was going so well until Monday afternoon.  That's when a contractor installing a sewer line dug in the wrong place and cracked it open.  Water spewed everywhere for more than 24 hours.  According to Pennsylvania American Water, it took the turning of 60 valves to shut off the flow here.

Some homes and businesses had no water.  Others had discolored water and low pressure.  It was a noisy, chlorine scented mess right in the middle of the borough.

How did it happen?  According to the water company, it is "under investigation."  That's code for "We're trying to come up with a plausible explanation while still leaving the door open for possible litigation and avoiding responsibility."

It simply could have been a careless contractor.  Maybe the maps of buried water lines were old, outdated and faulty.  I'm sure there will be finger pointing eventually.  I'm a little less sure we'll ever get to the bottom of this, pardon the pun.

Thanks to Antonio's Pizza, who let us use a parking space for our mobile newsroom all morning long.  Thanks to the man who runs the BBQ restaurant just off the Fort Jenkins Bridge.  I offered to buy a soda in exchange for a bathroom visit.  He said it wasn't necessary.  We compromised on a discount for the bottle of soda.  West Pittston is full of nice people.  May your taps always be flowing and your old mains always be undisturbed.