Emergency Repair of 48-inch Raw Water Main


When Hurricane Matthew dumped 8 inches of rain in 24 hours on the Cape Fear region in October 2016—and when the Cape Fear River crested at ~28 feet the following week—a 48-inch raw water main ruptured. The pipeline is owned by the Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority (LCFWSA), and transports raw water 24 miles to serve Brunswick County, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA), Pender County, and two private industries. Each day the pipeline remained broken, 12.5 million gallons of raw water spilled through the football-sized hole.

The failure occurred in a low topographical area that has limited drainage and is prone to flooding.  It is surmised that the flooded conditions and the significant impacts attributed to the hurricane undermined the pipe bedding and foundation, causing settlement of the pipe, separation of the pipe joints, and, ultimately, failure of the pipeline. A multi-organizational effort—including LCFWSA, Brunswick County, CFPUA and McKim & Creed—was launched to repair and restore the pipeline.

The first repair effort was a patch, which would have allowed raw water to flow to utilities while a bypass was being constructed. Unfortunately, the patch was not effective, so the following day the team began working to establish a temporary bypass. Pipes were flown in from all parts of the country to expedite construction.

On Monday, March 26, 2018 at the NC AWWA-WEA Spring Symposium, Tony Boahn, PE, McKim & Creed project manager, shared the multi-organizational efforts required to complete a timely and effective repair. Click on “In the Eye of the Storm” to view his presentation.