Pipe leak

Blain LeaMaster uses a backhoe to get to a leaking pipe Friday.

The Idaho earthquake that rattled Baker City happened almost four months ago but one of its effects might have been percolating ever since.

Baker City Public Works crews have recently repaired two leaks in a main water pipeline buried beneath Carter Street.

Although the link is not definitive, it’s possible that shaking from the March 30 quake near Stanley, Idaho, weakened a joint in the 12-inch-diameter pipe and led to the leak that caused water to pool along the curb on the north side of Carter Street between Seventh and Eighth streets.

The site is near the pedestrian crossing of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

“When we get an earthquake like that, movement of the earth, it moves those pipes just a little bit and sometimes it can kind of break a seal and water can find its way out,” Fisk said on Monday. “So it could have been that but we’re not sure.”

The March 30 quake, which had a magnitude of 6.5, rattled windows and caused chandeliers to sway in Baker City, about 128 miles from the epicenter.

City crews have fixed three leaks on the Carter Street pipe since the earthquake, Fisk said.

“We really haven’t had any others, it’s just been that area,” he said. “We had one on Estes Street (one street north of Carter) as well and it’s a 6-inch cast-iron line.”

Although the timing of the leaks suggests the quake might have been responsible, the pipeline, which is several decades old, leaked occasionally before the temblor as well, said Michelle Owen, the city’s public works director.

Owen said the city will look to replace the pipeline, possibly including the project in a future fiscal year.

“It impacts a lot of people so we really have to determine the best way to replace it,” she said.

The cast-iron pipe would be replaced with one made of ductile iron, a stronger material that the city uses in many such replacements.

Early last week city crews repaired a leaking valve along Carter Street.

But with water continuing to puddle on the surface, crews dug up the pipe and found the second leak. They repaired that on Friday morning.

“The crew went out and dug up that pipe and was able to pound some packing back in to stop the leak,” Fisk said. “And they put what’s called a bell clamp on that leak so it’s now sealed and not leaking.”

Workers had to remove the concrete curb on the north side of Carter Street.

Fisk said the city plans to build a new curb there before winter.

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