Single-vehicle accident leads to longer-lasting water issues ...

The Monday, July 17 single-vehicle accident pictured at right that took place at the intersection of 3rd Avenue SW and 8th Street SW in Waukon did not result in any reported injuries but played out into some considerable water issues beyond just the running water pictured in the photo at right, according to City of Waukon officials. Initial reports from the accident indicate that 85-year-old Merrill Jacobs of Waukon was looking out a side window and lost control of the 2011 Chrysler Town and Country van he was driving west on 3rd Avenue SW as he was approaching his driveway located diagonally across from the accident scene around 3:20 p.m. that July 17 afternoon. The vehicle crossed the oncoming lane of traffic and ended up hitting a fire hydrant, a light pole and a stop sign on the southeast corner of that intersection, knocking the fire hydrant across the street and initially compounding the running water issue from that hydrant displacement with the possibility of live electricity from the light pole also laying across the street. Jacobs was transported to Veterans Memorial Hospital by ambulance for initial observation and released a short time later, according to reports.

Beyond the damage evident in the photo above, City of Waukon Water Superintendent Jim Cooper said that the result of the accident and ensuing repair work led to discovery of water main breaks in three different locations within the area of the accident. “The first area was the proximity of the main to the hydrant that got hit, the sheer force of the collision was able to cause the break,” Cooper explained of the obvious break that sent water flowing down 3rd Avenue SW and Eighth Street SW.

While repairs were being made to the initial break at the hydrant location, another pair of breaks were eventually discovered, one further to the east on 3rd Avenue SW and another within the interior of an adjacent block. Cooper explained that the two subsequent water main breaks could have either been caused by “water hammer,” which occurs in pipes when there is a sudden velocity change, or by air pockets being introduced into the main water line. “When an air pocket like that gets moving, it has to release somewhere, and it generally finds a weak spot in the pipe and can create a break,” Cooper shared. “We always release the air through hydrants, but the hydrant we would have needed was out of commission (due to being broken off by the accident impact).”

Cooper said, in his assessment, those two situations are likely what caused the additional water main damage. City of Waukon and other assisting construction crews worked throughout that Monday night and into the early morning hours following the accident to try and repair the water main breaks, with some of the work requiring assistance from the Skyline Construction division of Bruening Rock Products the next day as well. Residents in the immediate vicinity of the accident site were initially without water until early the next morning following the accident, and the fire hydrant was scheduled to be replaced Tuesday morning, July 25. “In the end, everything is fixable and we are just happy that no one was injured in the accident or in the repairs,” Cooper said. Standard photo by Sara Aleckson-Melcher.