Water supplies cut, schools close, after water main broken

Water flows down Auld St, Dunedin, after a water main was damaged yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Water flows down Auld St, Dunedin, after a water main was damaged yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Two Dunedin schools were forced to close unexpectedly yesterday afternoon after a water main was damaged, causing water supplies to be cut.

Downer contractors were working to remove a power pole near Tahuna Normal Intermediate about 12.30pm, when it appeared the pole’s concrete footing damaged an underground water main, cutting supplies and sending water pouring into the street.

The broken water main affected water supplies to Tahuna Intermediate, nearby Musselburgh School and surrounding properties.

Tahuna Intermediate principal Tony Hunter said there was a lot of water running down the street.

Without water or the ability to flush toilets, it was decided to close the school and send all 546 pupils home, he said.

Parents were notified to collect their children, but pupils unable to be picked up early remained in class under staff supervision until 3pm.

Musselburgh School took similar actions.DCC network contracts manager William Clifford said up to 30 properties in the area had been affected.

It was hoped the damage would be repaired yesterday afternoon and water supply would resume.

"The pipes will be flushed when the supply is restored and people may notice slight water discolouration.

"Taps should be run for 10 to 15 minutes to clear the water."

Mr Clifford said it was still too early to estimate the cost of the damage.

Downer South Island operations manager Mike Kemp apologised for the inconvenience and said the company would conduct an investigation into the incident.

"We are sorry to have interrupted the local community with this outage and will reconnect services as quickly as we can.

"Once services are connected, we will investigate the matter fully."

Mr Hunter was philosophical about the performance of the contractors.

"It was just one of those things that happens.

"They will probably learn from the experience," he said. 

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