Residents of the Broadmead retirement community woke up yesterday morning to discover they had no water. Edna Devereux, who had started her day with a water aerobics class, was in it up to her neck.
"Ironic, isn't it," Mrs. Devereux said. "Of course, we couldn't take our after-aerobics shower."
The water outage was caused by a rupture in a 30-inch water main underneath York Road, just south of Shawan Road in Cockeysville, Sunday night.
When city and county workers arrived at the site around 9:30 p.m. Sunday, water was gushing up both sides of York Road about 100 feet south of the Shawan Road intersection. The muddy water flowed over the east side curb and ran down the parking lot of the Hunt Valley Shopping Center on York Road.
The rupture created a 2-foot-square hole in the side of the water main and caused a 40-foot section of the roadway to collapse.
Utility crews labored yesterday to replace a 20-foot section of the concrete pipe. Repairs on the road could take several days, workers said.
Workers at the scene said the break was probably caused by a weakened section of the pipe. But the exact cause of the rupture is not clear, said James L. Kapplin, city public works spokesman. However, water main breaks such as this are normal for the city's aging water system, parts of which are more than 100 years old, he said.
"It can be just old pipe crumbling; it could be caused from ground giving way and another pipe falling onto the water main, it could happen when construction crews accidentally break into a main," Mr. Kapplin said.
The particular water main that ruptured Sunday night was installed in 1973, Mr. Kapplin said. The break disrupted service from the Shawan Road intersection north to the Loveton Business Center and the Loveton Farms residential community. In between, the North Park Business Center and Broadmead also lost water service.
Baltimore public works officials said they expected water service to about 600 customers who were affected by the break would resume by sunrise today.
(Baltimore City operates the water system that provides service to the city, Baltimore County, most of Howard County and the northern portion of Anne Arundel County.)
In Broadmead's community center yesterday morning, residents went about their normal routine, sometimes joking with one another about the water outage, at other times making worried ** inquiries about how friends in the community were getting along.
Standing in front of the bulletin board, Mrs. Devereux, her walking cane hung over one arm, used her free hand to sign up for a bus trip to Cylburn Park.
"We're pretty hardy people here, so it won't be a problem for us," Mrs. Devereux said.
Broadmead, which opened 13 years ago, occupies 80 acres on the east side of York Road slightly north of Shawan Road. The 242 one-story apartments, arranged in about 20 square U-shaped clusters, are home for 410 elderly residents.
"The people have been real good about this," said Richard F. Compton, executive director of Broadmead. "We've had no complaints from the residents. In fact, we've had residents asking if we needed them to go find some drinking water."
Mr. Compton said the retirement community purchased about 100 gallons of bottled water early yesterday morning. Much of it was sent to the community's nursing center so patients could take medication.
Mr. Compton said the retirement community had about 4,000 gallons of reserve water on hand and could get more from a spring house on the property. He said each apartment cluster got a 20-gallon barrel of water which residents could use for flushing toilets.