Another saddle failure causes Main Street water main break

City has been grappling with recurring problem since 2009

Another corroded saddle is being blamed for a water main break Thursday morning in the 100 block of South Main Street.

The failure snarled traffic in that block while the damage was being repaired and affected businesses and residents from the East Green Bay Street intersection to about half a block south.

Water was turned off to those properties from about 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The break occurred outside Dreier Pharmacy at 117 S. Main St.

There was no information available Thursday as to what damage the building sustained, though when saddles have failed in the past the water generally follows the pipes into the building.

The saddles hold in place the service connection to the water main and were installed during the Main Street reconstruction project in 2002 and 2003, which stretched from the channel to the Mountain Bay Trail at Oshkosh Street.

The city started experiencing problems with the saddles in 2009.

Two water main breaks occurred in the 100 block of North Main Street in February 2009 and December 2010, only about 50 to 75 feet away from one another. Another saddle failed in the 200 block of South Main Street in September 2013.

It was determined that high levels of chloride in the soil were responsible for those saddle failures.

Random soil tests were done in 2015 by Mach IV Engineering, of Green Bay. Out of 20 locations sampled, chloride levels above 500 parts per million were found at three locations. Five others had chloride levels above 300 ppm.

The stainless steel used in the saddles could start to deteriorate at chloride levels over 300 ppm, according to city officials. At levels above 500 ppm, the deterioration is much faster.

Chloride levels in the area of the three previous water main breaks were in the range of 900 ppm, as a result of years of street salt seeping into the soil.

The city hoped it had the problem licked after it hired Grunewald Inc. in September 2015 to replace stainless steel saddles at eight Main Street locations where they were at risk for potential corrosion.

Three of the saddle replacements took place in the 100 block of North Main Street, two in the 100 block of South Main Street, one in the 200 block of North Main, one in the 200 block of South Main and one in the 100 block of West Fourth Street.

One of the saddles replaced was just south of the one that failed Thursday.

City Administrator Brian Knapp said the soil testing that was done in 2015 was very extensive, “but we can’t test everything.”

He said the city’s field committee would have to discuss the options, whether that means further testing or a more expansive replacement of all the original saddles from the reconstruction project.