Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Businesses close, residents told to boil water as downtown water main break enters second day

Capital Region Water crews work to fix a water main break on North Street.

A water main break in downtown Harrisburg entered its second day today, closing businesses and affecting several hundred residents.

Tanya Dierolf, spokesperson for Capital Region Water, said that she couldn’t provide an estimate when the repair would be completed and when the boil water advisory would be lifted.

“CRW is still working to make the repair,” she said. “[Timing] will depend on trying to complete the repair.”

The break of the 16-inch water main was detected early yesterday, with torrents of water streaming down North Street. CRW crews have worked around the clock since to fix the circa-1938 pipe.

Some 200 properties are affected along a swath of downtown Harrisburg stretching from Front Street to North Street to N. 3rd Street to Forster Street (see map).

This area includes such businesses as Mangia Qui/Rubicon and Elementary Coffee Co., which are closed today, as well as the East Shore YMCA.

Mangia Qui co-owner Staci Basore said that her restaurants had to close because they have no running water at all. They began serving brunch yesterday, but then had to turn away about 60 people once water pressure ceased. Now, she’s worried about this weekend, as her restaurants are fully booked for the Valentine’s Day weekend.

“Businesses need to make a living out of it,” she said. “I can bring in bottled water to drink, but I can’t operate without a toilet.”

Similarly, Elementary Coffee Co. is shut down until the water comes back on. Owner Andrea Grove said that she’s concerned because her shop just opened a few months ago and is still gaining traction.

“It’s a huge tragedy for us and everything that we’re trying to build up,” she said.

Both Basore and Grove mentioned that their anxiety has been worsened by not knowing when service will resume.

“No one can tell us anything with any degree of certainty,” Basore said.

The break occurred directly in front of the YMCA, which had to shut down and cancel all classes and its daycare. According to the Y, bottled water and portable toilets have been brought in for its residential population.

Dierolf said that different locations have differing issues. Some buildings in the advisory area have little or no water, while others seemingly have full pressure. Nonetheless, all customers in the area should boil water for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth and washing dishes until further notice, she said.

Dierolf said that the repair has taken longer than first anticipated because a valve needed to be replaced. Once the repair is finished, CRW must perform a series of water tests to ensure safety, which likely will prolong the advisory even after work has finished and North Street, between N. 2nd and Front streets, has reopened to traffic.

“We appreciate everybody’s patience,” she said. “We’ll give you updates when we can.”

For the latest information, visit the CRW website.

This story has been updated to include comments from business owners.

Continue Reading