An early morning water main break on Portland and Birch left many Scotch Plains residents without water this morning.
One resident spoke with New Jersey American Water shortly after 5 a.m. Representatives of NJAW at that time said that repairs would be completed by 4 p.m.
After 7:30 a.m., the Fire Department was reporting that the water was "secured" and that they were successfully pumping water from basements. The Fire Dept. was requesting that the gas company evaluate gas lines at that time.
Other residents said that helicopters were circling after 7 a.m. Images of the surging waters from the break are showing up on New York television news outlets like NBC.
Update 11 a.m.
Patch.com spoke to Peter Eschbach, director of communications and external affairs at New Jersey American Water, who is on site at the water main break.
Eschbach confirmed a 48 in. concrete transmission pipe running down Portland Avenue ruptured around 3:30 a.m. this morning. The pipe was installed in the 1970s, he said.
He said houses are not directly connected to the pipe, but rather it provided water to other smaller pipes that connect to residents’ homes.
NJAW turned off water to the pipe this morning to isolate the break. They are currently in the process of pumping out the hole caused by the break with multiple pumps so workers can investigate the cause of the rupture and work to fix it.
This process could take around 24 hours to complete, Eshbach said, but it is difficult at this time to estimate exactly.
“We’re talking hours though,” he said.
Eschbach said no residents, as far as he knows, are without water in Scotch Plains. He said, however, residents may experience low pressure for the time being, since NJAW have rerouted water to homes.
NJAW contractors are currently on the scene pumping water from flooded homes and St. Bartholomew Academy. Eschbach said they are working with Scotch Plains police to prevent fraudulent contractors from entering residents’ homes.
“The good news is we’re not on a main community artery, and the other good news is it’s not 95 degrees and 100 percent humidity,” he said.
Update 4:00 p.m.
New Jersey American Water has completed pumping out water from the 15-foot wide hole created by the water main break. Water levels have receded for the most part and roads are now covered in remnants of mud and garbage left behind by the gushing waters.
Crews are now working in the hole to unearth the water main. The cause of the break is still unknown, but Eshbach estimates work to be completed in 48 hours.
Since the water main break involved a distribution main and not a service main, NJAW was able to restore water pressure quickly, and the health safety of the water was not compromised, said Scotch Plains Fire Department Chief Jonathan Ellis.
Traffic will continue to be detoured for an extended period of time to allow for the repair of the main and reconstruction of the roadway, he said.
Do you have images or video of the water main break? Upload them here.