A weekend challenge on Mount Gibraltar was rooted with Mother Nature.
Council's Water and Sewer on-call staff were called to action on Saturday morning (May 23) with a report of floodwater impacting property on the Gib.
On attending the steep sloped site, the source of the problem became clear: they found a mature tree had broken the 300mm trunk main that was responsible for the water supply for hundreds of more elevated properties.
As the burst water was coming from directly beneath the sizeable tree, specialist help was called in via Council's Infrastructure Services department, who are used to dealing with problematic trees.
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The tree had to be taken down steadily to a stump in the gusty autumnal weather, to make the site safe for Water and Sewer staff to begin work and minimise further damage to the pipework.
Once the trunk of the tree was out of the way, then began the challenge of finding the exact source of the break.
Excavating the trunk main in the hazardous wet and muddy hillside shone a light on the extents of the situation: the tree had wrapped its roots completely around the water pipe, causing and encapsulating the break.
Water staff worked in shifts into the night sawing off the knotty roots, until an essential break in work was called near midnight to avoid injury in the deteriorating conditions.
Fully aware of customers supplies being impacted, staff returned at dawn to continue the work on the main, as well as extra staff volunteering to work to distribute bottled water to affected residents.
Progress accelerated in daylight with renewed vigour and the last of the roots were removed, enabling the break in the pipe to be assessed.
A repair was then efficiently carried out with a steel wrap around clamp and supplies restored to customers in time for lunch.
Main breaks often occur with the changing seasons, due to moisture and temperature changes, particularly in areas with trees due to movement often caused by wet and windy conditions.
Trees are an integral part of the great character of the Southern Highlands, so we'd like to thank the dedicated council staff and the patience of residents for helping us maintain our services in our unique, but often challenging landscape.
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