The leak is in the joint between two pieces of 140-year-old pipe.
Crews stopped work at about 8 p.m. last night to cover the hole but the break in the seal has extended, Public Services Commissioner Timothy Lescarbeau said late Thursday morning. The line had been running out about 100 gallons an hour but is now releasing about 1,000.
The city has had to deal with a number of water breaks in recent years but Highway Foreman Paul Markland said this is the first time there had been an issue on this section of River Street.
"The break is focused on River Street; It is the resolution of the break that is the question," Mayor Thomas Bernard said earlier on Thursday. "...This really has turned into a kind of an archaeological dig and a scavenger hunt. They are trying to find and isolate the valve and the gate that will provide the shut off so they can stop the leak and bring the rest of the system up."
The city made a post on social media just before 8 p.m. Wednesday notifying residents that they may experience reduced water pressure or brown water. Bernard said notification was also relayed via CodeRED.
Bernard said city workers were under the impression the water break was more localized to the River Street area, but it was later found that the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and Church Street were experiencing water irregularities.
The mayor, who was headed to the work site Thursday morning, said Department of Public Service employees are still unclear on what exactly the problem is.
"Folks on the site are saying that everything that everybody has done should have fixed the problem," Bernard said. "So that means we are literally off the map on something, or there is just someplace in the system where something isn't doing what we expect it to do
Bernard said he is in touch with the city emergency management team and they are taking all precautions.
"We just want to make sure we are monitoring this to make sure, and that places like the Berkshire Health Systems campus are not affected. We don't think they will be," he said. "... We are monitoring that, and if we start to see water issues downtown we would talk to restaurants about what they would need to do."
He said they are also mindful of issues that could arise if there was a fire within the city that forced the Fire Department to tap into a compromised water system.
He said the city also made the pre-emptive decision to close Colegrove Elementary school for the day. He said there was a possibility that the school's water could be impacted by the ongoing work.
"We didn't want to bring kids into a building where we didn't have water service too where we couldn't have food service," he said. "Especially now ... in response to COVID where health and safety is such are a critical consideration. So we made the decision to take them offline for the day.
Bernard said this part of the system has not broken before and he was happy they discovered the problem now.
"It is an older system, and the good news is, in a weird, way this part of the system has not had problems like this before," he said. "Which means whatever the underlying issues are haven't been identified."
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A broken water main on River Street has been causing issues on the north side of city.