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Neighbors express water pipe concerns after volcano-like eruption

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RICHMOND, Va. -- One day after a water main break caused a 40 foot geyser in a Church Hill neighborhood, dozens of residents are concerned it may happen again.

Neighbors on North 31st Street are still talking about the volcano-like eruption caused by a water main break, leaving many homes without water of the Fourth of July.

Mikal Muhammad’s family lives next door and had a front row seat to the spectacle.

“It blew a hole right through the ground, like a volcano... It came straight up and just erupted,” he said. “It was knocking some pieces off the house.”

The water main broke on Monday

The water main broke on Monday

Crews worked from Monday morning into the night to restore the water and repairing this gaping hole. Now, roads surrounding the water main break have re-opened and water has been restored to residents.

Another Church Hill resident, Hattie Thornton, counts herself lucky, she never lost water.

When asked why she didn’t lose water:

“I don't know… The good Lord!” she said laughing.

While she was thankful, Thornton says when she watched this scene unfold from her front porch and her family was preparing.

“My son went in and ran to put water in some pots and things just in case our water got cut off,” she said.

Road repaired

Now Church Hill residents are asking what caused the break to happen and could it happen again in their neighborhood?

CBS 6 reached out to the Richmond Department of Utilities for answers.

Spokesperson Angela Fountain says crews replaced the section of cast iron pipe that blew out unexpectedly.

She said they don’t have an exact cause of why it happened, but believe the age of the pipe contributed to it.

“Many of the pipes in this section of the city were cleaned and lined back in 1994, not sure if this specific pipe was one of them,” Fountain said.

One neighbor who declined to be identified said he hopes the city will consider replacing pipes in the neighborhood.

“That’s really what I’m scared of... That we’ll have another eruption and somebody will get hurt,” he said.

When asked about the possibility of replacing the pipes, Fountain said there are a few factors.

“When pipes are old... We look at age... Material… What the traffic is like on that road,” she explained.

She said the City tries to manage aging pipes as a part of their Water Pipe Renewal program.

“Renewing water mains in this section of the city is scheduled to begin within the next two to three months,” she said. “They do a pipe assessment. That determines whether that pipe is going to be replaced or going to be renewed.”

She added that assessment was already on the scheduled before Monday’s water main break in the neighborhood.