Fayette County

How did a water tank overflow and flood this neighborhood? Here’s what happened.

Broken water tank overflows, floods Lexington yards

A broken water tank on York Streeet flooded yards on Eddie Street in Lexington Saturday morning.
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A broken water tank on York Streeet flooded yards on Eddie Street in Lexington Saturday morning.

Kentucky American Water officials said a faulty valve that monitors the amount of water in a ground tank on York Street caused the tank to overflow Saturday and pump hundreds of gallons of water into the street, flooding yards near York and Eddie streets.

A spokeswoman for Kentucky American Water said that when the valve broke, water continued to pour into the tank past its capacity, forcing water out of the seams of the tank around the top — about 25 feet up.

“This issue was unusual, and inspection would not have predicted this valve failure,” said Susan Lancho, a spokeswoman for the water company. Lancho said the last time that tank had a thorough inspection was in 2014.

On Saturday, Lexington police and fire were called to the north Lexington neighborhood off Loudon Avenue after neighbors reported water pouring out of the top of the tank. Neighbors said the tank started to leak about 10 a.m.. The water was eventually shut off about 11:30 a.m.

Back yards of homes on Eddie Street were flooded, and at one point, garbage cans were floating.

The tank was taken out of service, and an inspection was conducted Tuesday. Water service for customers in the area should not have been affected by the inspection, Lancho said.

Lancho said the valve failure was a unique event.

“Kentucky American Water has a strong record of investing in water system infrastructure — tanks, pipe, treatment plants — and that commitment will continue. Unfortunately, even with such diligence in maintenance and upgrades, mechanical failures can sometimes occur,” she said.

Kentucky American Water is regulated by the state Public Service Commission.

Andrew Melnykovych, a spokesman for the PSC, said the water company notified the commission Saturday of the tank problem. Because damage did not exceed $25,000, a follow up report is not required.

Melnykovych said he isn’t aware of any conerns the commission has had with Kentucky American’s tank inspections. Thorough tank inspections are typically conducted every three to five years because they can be expensive — requiring a combination of submersible cameras and scuba divers.

“The inspection schedules that they do use have to pass muster as part of the PSC inspection process,” Melnykovych said.

There is good news.

The water drained quickly and appears to have done little damage to the homes closest to the tank on York and Eddie streets.

Kris Nonn, director of design and construction for North Limestone Community Development Corp., said the organization’s homes on York Street — part of its affordable housing program — suffered no damage from the water. Nonn said Wednesday there was a lot of soil erosion in the area.

Beth Musgrave: 859-231-3205, @HLCityhall