Old shallow watermain lurks beneath new roundabout, newly paved road

The roundabout in Iroquois is traversed by a rig with two trailers. Larger trucks with two full-size "trains" are not permitted to leave the 401 and thus shouldn't ever been seen using the County Rd. 2 emergency detour route that includes the roundabouts in places like Iroquois and Long Sault, says SDG County Engineer Ben de Haan. Smith photo, Nation Valley News

SOUTH DUNDAS — The United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry completed its first roundabout last month in Iroquois at a cost of $1.3-million — with local politicians crossing their fingers over an aging watermain left in place below the new asphalt.

After a summer of construction at the intersection of County Rd. 2 and County Rd. 1, the pavers completed their work on the roundabout during the week of Sept. 12. 

The Counties had also applied a first lift of asphalt on newly rebuilt County Rd. 1, south of the new roundabout, when the video footage below was taken, Sept. 24.  

SDG redid the road at a cost of $450,000 in advance of its planned turnover to the Municipality of South Dundas — even as South Dundas Council was disappointed to recently learn about a lurking potential problem with a major watermain running beneath a substantial portion of the road’s reconstructed length. The issue came to light Aug. 29 when the watermain broke at the new roundabout, leading the construction crew to discover the pipe had been installed only two to three feet deep — well above the frostline — in the 1950s.

A chagrined council briefly grappled with the bad news during a Sept. 5 meeting — a week before paving was set to begin. Because of the timing and cost of replacing the watermain — roughly estimated at $1-million by CAO Shannon Geraghty — the local politicians reluctantly agreed to leave the old pipe in place. However, Councillor Bill Ewing, long-time Iroquois resident and former village public works employee, assured his colleagues he couldn’t remember the last time there was a break on the 60-year-old watermain, despite its shallow depth. United Counties Engineer Ben de Haan told Nation Valley News that the pipe — despite its substandard installation decades ago  — has likely avoided winter freeze-ups because of the sheer volume of water flowing through it.

de Haan said there was little choice but to proceed with scheduled paving because the pipe problem wasn’t discovered until “unfortunately, it was too late.”

“It’s no one’s fault,” he added.

Meanwhile, SDG is nearing completion on roundabouts two and three on County Rd. 2 in Long Sault (see below).

Under construction since August, a pair of new roundabouts in Long Sault appear closer to completion as poured concrete now clearly delineates the circular shape for motorists smoothly negotiating through the revamped intersections along County Rd. 2. Video footage was shot earlier in the week.
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