AUBURN — A Water District spokesman said Tuesday that residents in about 30 homes near Monday's water main break on Court Street will need to continue boiling their tap water until tests show it's safe to drink.
The first test results are expected Tuesday by mid-afternoon, Superintendent John Storer said.
Crews repaired the break Monday night and restored water service to the area. But nearby residents were given bottled water for drinking and tooth brushing until further notice.
The notice is a precaution only, Storer said. It's possible the inside of the pipe may have been contaminated by bacteria at the site of the break, he said.
"This has nothing to do with water quality at the source," he said.
Crews flushed the pipe Monday night after repairs and residents were urged to let their taps run, but health protocols require testing before giving the all-clear, Storer said.
Results from the first test are expected Tuesday by 4 p.m., he said.
"We expect the results will be fine," he said.
Crews went house to house Monday night with bottled water and boil notices. They will revisit those houses Tuesday when test results show water quality meets state standards, Storer said.
The roughly 30 homes are on Court Street and Russell Street.
Some residents making their way home from work Monday evening were met by a torrent of water due to a water main break at the top of Goff Hill.
Court Street in Auburn was closed between Western and Park avenues as a result of the break that sent water gushing nearly two stories high for almost an hour shortly before 3 p.m. Crews raced to isolate the location of the break and shut down water to the area.
About 30 area homes were still without water Monday evening and residents were urged to boil their water until further notice.
"They were just chipping away at the road and then hit a water main," said Russell Avenue resident Bob Johnson. "My wife came out and said we didn't have any water. I didn't hear the heavy machinery anymore, but I could still hear the water."
Storer said the break on Court Street occurred near Russell Avenue. According to water district meters, the leak drained about 3 million gallons in an hour.
At one point in the process of locating and repairing the leak, Storer said, "I'm afraid if this goes on too long, we won't have enough water for the city. It's like a classic Hollywood movie. There's just a geyser blowing out of the road 15, 20 feet up in the air."
Hayes Heath was heading home to New Gloucester with his two young children from Dunkin' Donuts when they saw the detour and stopped to investigate.
"They had a nice geyser here where they cut the pipe, about 20 to 25 feet," he said.
Sid Hazelton, district engineer for Auburn Water and Sewer, said within an hour of the gusher, crews isolated the break and shut off water to the 16-inch water main. He said most of the water flowing from the hole was water from Lake Auburn and not the city's Goff Hill Reservoir just past Park Avenue.
Hazelton said the accidental break was caused by a crew from Shaw Brothers Construction. The Gorham-based company is under contract with the gas company to install a new gas main. According to Hazelton, a work crew was digging to prepare for the upcoming installation when they hit the water main.