Westbury Water District plagued by bursting water pipes

Village of Westbury officials recently discussed the phenomenon of bursting pipes in the village, which is occurring with greater regularity.

By Simran Desai

Westbury Village and utility officials have solved the problem of bursting water pipes in three village homes and on Ellison Avenue, but 16 more holes have recently burst on the east side of the district, with no hard answers as to why as of press time.

At Westbury’s Oct. 5 Village Board meeting, Trustee Vincent Abbatiello said there were seven other pipe holes along Ellison Avenue that burst onto the road and sidewalk over the last nine months.

The holes, called pinholes, are often caused when utility companies send high volumes of electricity through lines that cross over water mains that feed fresh water to homes, causing electrolysis, or a deterioration of the pipes that occurs when an electric current passes through water. Any scratch or imperfection in the pipes can lead to electrolysis, according to officials.   

The pinholes cause small water leaks. When there are four, five or six of the holes, water begins to seep out of the pipe, which can burst. Then water district workers must come to fix the leak, Abbatiello said. Workers must be careful to avoid electric shock, which is a real danger, and fixing the pipes comes at a high cost. 

Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro said at the meeting that the exact cause of the holes on Ellison Avenue was under investigation. “We’ve been having a series of meetings with the railroad because we thought maybe it might have had something to do with the Third Track Project work that was done, with PSEG, National Grid, the Water District,” he said.

PSEG subsequently claimed responsibility for the bursting pipes along Ellison Avenue, according to John Ingram, the Westbury Water District superintendent. He said he believes the issue on this street is now resolved.

“We believe that’s been corrected because PSEG indicated they found a problem with a broken wire,” Ingram said. “They’ve since repaired that. Now, we haven’t had any leaks up there in the last two weeks.”

That leaves the east side of the water district, along Elizabeth and Pearl streets, where a similar problem with pinholes has been happening. This area lies near the Third Track Project. There have been at least 16 water leaks in this area, with leaks occurring every few days at times. As of press time, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, National Grid and PSEG were investigating. 

Google My Map by Simran Desai/Long Island Advocate // For an interactive version of this map, click here.
Canva graphic by Simran Desai/Long Island Advocate

While Abbatiello, Cavallaro and Ingram have said the Third Track Project may have caused the pinholes, Joana Flores, media liaison for MTA, wrote in an email to The Advocate, “I can confirm that the Third Track Project is in no way related to the water pipe issue at Westbury.”

Since the water lines on the road are continuing to burst relatively frequently, Ingram said there is a chance pipes in people’s houses could burst as well, at a cost to the homeowners.

“I can confirm that the Third Track Project is in no way related to the pipe issue at Westbury.”

Joana Flores, MTA spokeswoman

If Westbury property owners develop leaks in the service lines on their properties, Ingram said, they should call the water district, as well as PSEG, National Grid or the MTA, because “it’s obvious that it’s got to be coming from one of those sources.”

Ingram has said the district is applying pressure on the utility companies, LIRR and elected leaders to find and fix the problem. 

For more, residents can contact the Westbury Water District at (516) 333-0427.