GREELEY, Colo. – Attempts to isolate a break in a 20 inch water main led to a "pressure surge" that resulted in six other breaks Sunday night, leaving many customers in this northeastern Colorado city without water.
One of those "breaks" was at Meeker Elementary School.
"We were notified at midnight that the school had flooded," said Greeley-Evans School District 6 spokeswoman Theresa Myers.
Myers told Denver7 they found about an inch and a half of water and mud on the floors inside the school. Without running water, clean up crews had to vacuum the mud, and then bring in their own water supplies to help mop up the mess.
When asked how so much mud ended up inside the school, Myers replied, "The water bubbled up through drains, and through the floor, and through cracks created by the water pressure. The earth came with it."
It wasn't just mud that was a concern.
Myers said water pressure underground forcefully raised the concrete floor in the school's utility room and caused a major crack in the mortar holding cinder blocks together on the north wall.
"We will not be open (Tuesday,)" she said. "We'll be taking that time to work on a contingency plan."
Myers said they don't know yet how long the school will remain closed, because they have yet to isolate the break in their water line.
"Do we move students to another location, or just keep them out a few more days," she said. "That's still up in the air."
Homeowners left high & dry
Several homeowners learned about the problem late Sunday night, when they tried to get a drink of water and found the faucet dry.
"My son and I got up at 6:00 this (Monday) morning," said Teri McDaniel. "We went over to King Soopers and used the restroom to wash our hands and face. We also bought bottled water because it's not something we keep on hand here."
Greeley water officials said they made repairs to the 20 inch main at 35th Avenue and 22nd Street and recharged the system. It sprung another leak, so they had to shut water down again.
They estimated that service would be restored to nearby homes early Monday evening.
The other major breaks on city lines were at 13th Street and 35th Avenue and at 27th Street and 23rd Avenue.
The Greeley Mall reported some minor flooding, from a break in one of its lines, but the Mall remained open Monday.
Late Monday night, 22nd Street was still shut down east of 35th Avenue. Work crews left heavy equipment in place so they could resume work in the morning.