Bethlehem-Center School District Cancels Wednesday ClassesBy Lisa Washington

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CLARKSVILLE, Pa. (KDKA) — Students in Washington County’s Bethlehem-Center School District didn’t have classes Wednesday, not because of the weather, but because of water main breaks.

A power outage Tuesday afternoon, caused the pump station in East Bethlehem to stop working.

“The line broke,” said Tom Goughenour, the operations manager with Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority. “It drained our tank and we lost roughly 200,000 gallons in a hour’s time.”

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

When the pump stopped working, Water Authority crews say that broke a water hammer and forced water through the lines, causing five water main breaks.

The water crews had to work quickly to find all of the leaks in the system.

The first break happened not far from that pump station. Two others happened on Sandy Plains Road, another on Locust Street, and the fifth break happened along Black Dog Hollow Road.

Water service was restored for most of the residents by Wednesday morning, but school officials decided it was best to cancel classes.

“With no running water, we can’t even run restrooms,” said Christopher Sefcheck, superintendent of Bethlehem Central School District, “So, for kids to be in the building or adults to be in the building with no working restrooms, that’s not doable for kids.”

Approximately 200 people in the area were under a boil water advisory.

“They had sent out a message, if you were going to use the water, if the water was on, to boil the water,” said Stacy Cox, who lives in East Bethlehem.

Goughenour says the water is on, but the advisory remains.

“It is a precautionary measure. It is in place,” he told KDKA’s Lisa Washington. “Once all the lines are full and the tank is full, we’ll take bacteria samples, and then once the results are in that the samples are clear, we’ll lift the alert.”

Added Cox, “It’s on now and it looks good, but I’m not going to drink it.”

Lisa Washington