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OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — An old underground water pipe that ruptured at Osan Air Base on Friday night drained about a half day’s supply from the base water system and left some areas with little or no water into Saturday night.

The pipe that broke around 11:30 p.m. Friday drained the base water supply of from 750,000 gallons to 1 million gallons, said Maj. Eric Hoversten, operations flight commander with Osan’s 51st Civil Engineer Squadron.

The base normally consumes from 1.5 million to 1.9 million gallons of water daily, he said. “So we put a half a day’s worth of water out on the street” through the rupture.

The pipe measured 8 inches in diameter and probably was about 40 years old, Hoversten said. It broke at a point near the base operations building near the flight line.

“They’re old, brittle pipes and they just break,” he said.

As thousands of gallons drained from the base water supply, water pressure dropped, affecting many on the north side of the base area.

An area of general-officer and senior-officer quarters was entirely without water, as was the 51st Fighter Wing headquarters building, Hoversten said.

Other locations had water but at too low a pressure for normal use, he said. The officer and noncommissioned officer dormitories, Turumi Lodge, Officers Club and the Osan Shopping Mall food court “had water pressure reduced to the extent that they could not operate normally for portions of the day on Saturday,” Hoversten said.

Pressure was restored by 6 p.m. Saturday, he said.

But even with the break repaired, airmen worked into Sunday to return the base’s water supply to proper volume. Airmen and civilians from the engineer squadron worked 24-hour shifts to fix the problem.

The broken pipe was part of an older underground system that over the past four years gradually has been replaced, Hoversten said. It was supposed to have been shut off and disconnected from the newer system but for some reason had not been, he said.


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