By Melissa Garcia
DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – Business owners returning to flooded stores were assessing the damage caused by a massive water main break.
A 24-inch conduit underground on 29th Avenue and Zuni Street burst open around noon Saturday, sending a gushing geyser of water through the streets of the Highlands near downtown Denver.
A stretch of 29th Avenue remained closed on Sunday evening, longer than expected, as workers were filling the giant hole in the ground where the pipeline broke.
A Denver Water spokesperson said that at least one lane of 29th Avenue between Zuni and Umatilla streets would reopen Monday morning in time for rush hour traffic.
The pipe that broke was installed in 1889, nearly 130-years ago.
The cause of the break was under investigation, but officials said the aging pipes often fail due to sudden fluctuations in temperature.
CBS4’s Melissa Garcia spoke with Sarah Hipps, a resident of an apartment building near 15th and Platte streets whose unit flooded.
“I was worried about how high (the water) was getting,” Hipps said.
She was inside her apartment when water started seeping in.
“I got really worried because I saw how flooded the road was,” Hipps said. “I didn’t know if I was supposed to start moving things, where I was even going to put things.”
It was the second flood at her complex in just a month. A pipe break inside the building also caused water damage the first time around.
“It’s unfortunate,” Hipps said. “This has just been a tough break for this area.”
Jonathan Kahn, owner of Confluence Kayaks and Ski, said that a makeshift damn put up inside the store’s entrance wasn’t enough to keep water from flowing inside.
“I was worried that this was the end … we were scrambling to lift the inventory off the floor. And especially the skis. We don’t want the ski edges rusting. So we were moving inventory as fast as we could, and luckily we had maybe 15 or 20 minutes,” Kahn explained.
“Once the water came through those doors, we kind of knew that the shop was going to get flooded,” said James Whaley, a store employee.
Whaley was one of dozens of people returning to cars Sunday that had been submerged in the rising water.
“There was some water that got up into my engine, but there definitely were people who got it a lot worse,” Whaley said.
“Municipal water suppliers are not liable for any damages resulting from a water main break, unless they were negligent in the operation or maintenance of the water system,” a Denver Water spokesperson said
Per board policy, however, he said that Denver Water would pay up to $8,000 for damage to personal property resulting from the break.