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Sinkhole forms after water line breaks

A water main break early Sunday morning caused a massive sinkhole near the intersection of Institute and First streets in downtown Jamestown.

Crews from the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities discovered what was described as a "river of water" on a dead-end section of Institute Street at about 5 a.m., after the agency's computer systems indicated significant water loss from a reservoir.

A leak in a 10-inch water line caused the road to collapse, further severing the line.

What was left was a 12-foot-deep hole that ran at least 100 feet long on Institute Street.

"We're fortunate it was on a dead-end street, only a block long," said Rebecca Robbins, spokeswoman for BPU. "We're very fortunate as to where it occurred and when it occurred."

Water was turned off to two households in the vicinity of the break, said Robbins.

The sinkhole area also contained lines for electric, sanitary sewer, storm sewer and natural gas -- services that were shut off in the immediate area.

Crews installed a new valve so water and other services could be restored.

It was unclear Sunday how long cleanup of the area and rebuilding of the street will take.

BPU officials also did not have an estimate Sunday as to the cost of the damage and repairs.

Residents were being advised that the water main break could cause discolored water throughout the BPU's water service area.

"It could be that way until maybe Monday afternoon," said Robbins.

The discolored water does not pose any health threat for consumers, she added.

It's not certain what led to the leak, but changes in temperature can cause underground water pipes to shift with the ground and crack, said Robbins.