Residents look at the sunken pavement shortly after the water main burst on Spaulding Street.

TOWNSEND — In the past 10 days, there were two water main breaks in town. The first occurred on April 20 on Main Street. The second occurred the next day on Spaulding Street.

The first break disrupted water service from 7 p.m. on April 20 through 10:30 a.m. the next morning. The second one, on April 21, stopped the flow from 3 p.m. through 1 a.m. on April 22.

Despite their proximity in time, it appears the breaks were unrelated.

“It’s really hard to tell. It’s probably old age, and the line developed a weak point,” said Water Department Superintendent Paul Rafuse, when asked why both mains happened to break so closely together. “These things just happen over time.”

On Spaulding Street, there is a patch of dirt where the problem was corrected.

“The dirt is solid dirt, compacted, so it shouldn’t wash away,” he said.” And it will be hot topped soon.”

On April 21, a car drove onto the area where the water was squirting out from the Spaulding Street break. As it drove over the spot, the road collapsed and the car became stuck in the hole as it filled with water.

“The road was closed at both ends. There were signs posted that said ‘Road Closed,'” said Rafuse. “The driver saw there was a huge amount of water bubbling out of the ground. The driver of the car drove through anyway.”

The Main Street water main break was a bit more complex to fix than the Spaulding Street water main break.

“There was a three-inch high pressure gas main directly over the water main. It made it difficult to maneuver around,” said Rafuse. With the water main shut down for repairs, there was no water turned on from Worcester Road all the way to West Townsend.

“A part of Main Street had to be shut down for a while, and there,” said Rafuse, “And then we had to open things slowly, so there would be no other problems happening. We barely had time to get something to eat and close our eyes for a few minutes, and the second one broke. We were basically up for 36 hours.”

Working with Rafuse on the two water main breaks were Townsend Water Department employees Jim Blanchard and Mike MacEachern. On the second water main break there was mutual aid from the Lunenburg Water Department.

“We were very fortunate that we had the mutual aid from Lunenburg and the aid from the Townsend Highway Department. They gave us a truck with a driver, and hauled gravel,” Rafuse said.

“Keith Laterno (of the Townsend Highway Department) was a great help to us,” he said. “Typically, there are few breaks, never mind two breaks back to back.” “We apologize for any inconvenience, and we thank you for your patience and understanding.”