Irrigation pipe break

The dig site to repair an irrigation pipe break at Union Avenue and 7th Street SE in East Wenatchee, Wash., April 26. Repairs the next day restored water to orchards and lawns.

EAST WENATCHEE, Wash. — Farmers and residents in part of East Wenatchee went without irrigation water for four days when a gasket failed in a connection of a 43-inch diameter pipe.

The break was discovered April 24 at Union Avenue and Seventh Street Southeast. It may have been caused by construction a year or more ago in the area ... in the area vibrating 59-year-old pipe eight feet below the ground, said Michael Miller, manager of the Greater Wenatchee Irrigation District.

The district serves 2,700 residential and 500 agricultural customers on 4,500 acres with a closed pipe system from the Columbia River.

It was going to take five to six weeks to get a repair band to force a new gasket into the connection so the district made its own band and replaced the gasket on April 27, Miller said.

“It’s a critical time for orchard spraying so we did our best to get it done as quickly as possible,” he said.

Andy Handley, an East Wenatchee tree fruit grower, said it happened during a break in his spraying and before he normally starts irrigating trees.

“Had it been a week or two later, it would have been a bigger issue,” he said, adding his backup is more expensive domestic water.

Mario Diaz, manager of the 62-acre Mountain View Orchard, said he used domestic water to maintain thinning sprays and that soils are still moist enough from precipitation that trees were not affected by lack of irrigation water.

Central Washington field reporter

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