Water line break sends 200k gallons over Union Ave.

LACONIA — An excavator working at the intersection of Mechanic Street and Walnut Street struck a 12-inch water main around 2:30 p.m. yesterday, sending some 200,000 gallons of water cascading down Walnut Street and Harrison Street, across Union Avenue, through the Irwin Marine yard and toward Paugus Bay, as well as along Mechanic Street to Stark Street.

Seth Nuttelman, superintendent of Laconia Water Works, said that the mishap left approximately 30 homes without running water during the five hours it took to repair the break.

Traffic moved along Union Avenue in both directions as the water swept across the roadway, Although the street was not damaged, there was some scouring beneath the shoulder and around the guardrail of the southbound lane, opposite Walnut Street.

A storm drain emptying into Paugus Bay carried a heavy load of silt into the water. However, Nuttelman said that because the storm drain is downstream of the intake pipe that draws the municipal water supply from the bay, city water quality would not be affected. Moreover, since Paugus Bay, which holds about 13 billion gallons of water, is the sole outlet for the 625 billion gallons of water in Lake Winnipesaukee, any pollutants are quickly diluted and, depending on the flow at the Lakeport Dam, soon flushed downstream.

"It's not a bad situation," said Nuttelman. "There are no concerns."