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Water Main Break Causes Problems For Some In White Bear Lake

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Another water main break in the east metro is causing problems for residents in White Bear Lake.

A break caused a sinkhole on Interstate 694 in Oakdale just two weeks ago, creating a long detour for motorists. A stretch of the interstate was shut down for about a week between I-94 in Woodbury and Highway 36 in Oakdale.

White Bear Lake residents had little to no water for a few hours Saturday morning. The break was first reported at about 7 a.m. Water was back on for nearby residents by the afternoon.

The break occurred in a pond just north of County Road 96 on the east side of northbound Interstate 35E.

Repairs could take a couple days because the location of the break makes things complicated.

White Bear Lake Public Works crews and contractors continue to work to repair the break, which happened very close to the city's water tower.

White Bear Lake Water Line Brack
Crews repair a water main break in White Bear Lake (credit: CBS)

"This is a very unusual situation," said Public Works Superintendent Dan Pawlenty. "Unfortunately, it was a large line very close to the tower. It's a mainline going from the water tower that failed, and that caused a unique situation and a lot of water loss in a short period of time."

Pawlenty said the situation has been isolated, and flooding has been kept to a minimum.

"You've got the weather, and, you know, the ground's not frozen yet, but it will be soon, and that's where it gets complicated … things just take a lot longer to repair," Pawlenty said. "This particular break is underneath a wetlands … it's going to extend the period of time before you can do the necessary repairs."

Long-time White Bear Lake resident Don Landsverk said the break put a wrench in his morning routine.

"I shaved, and when I got done I went to turn the faucet on, and it was gone," Landsverk said.

Resident Joshua Dorr, however, said his family didn't notice any problem.

"It was fine. I brushed my teeth, took a bath, it was all good," Dorr said.

Pawlenty said things could have been different if it was 10 degrees below zero.

"We have about 30 water main breaks a year in White Bear Lake," he said. "It's not uncommon, all cities are unique, they have different infrastructure based on when the cities were developed. We have cast iron pipes, some other cities have HDBPE pipe, which is a plastic pipe that is more durable can take bends and breaks and different movements in the ground."

Pawlenty said unlike the Oakdale break, this one fortunately was just off the shoulder of Interstate 35E, and the roadway was not affected.

"There's a casing that runs underneath the highway, and then there's a 60-inch line inside of that casing, and then it broke just beyond the east side of the highway, so we lucked out there," Pawlenty said.

Residents should expect an extended period of time where the water pressure is not at normal range. Those who live west of Highway 61 and north of County Road 96 will likely see these problems.

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