‘Dike flood threat’ was a leaking water pipe
30 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — More than 500 residents have returned to their homes in Stein after a leaking water pipe was apparently unmasked as the culprit which led officials to believe the local dike was in danger of collapse.
“By sealing the water pipe, the flow of water from the dike stopped immediately and the area around the dike has been declared safe,” the local council in Stein confirmed on Thursday night.
The 543 locals were allowed on Tuesday afternoon to return to their homes in Stein. They had been evacuated and housed in emergency accommodation since Tuesday when a passer-by noticed that a 10m stretch of the dike on the Julianakanaal near Maastricht had subsided.
The authorities ordered the evacuation amid fears that further subsidence could allow water from the Julianakanaal to flood into the surrounding streets in Stein.
The Department of Pubic Works and Water Management was mystified by the problem with the dike as it had been last inspected on the morning before it subsided and no problems were detected.
The water level in the canal was lowered by about 1.2m to reduce pressure on the dike wall and allow inspectors to examine the dike on Wednesday morning.
Officials said the dike was “seriously undermined”. Repair work — using steel plates to shore up the dike — was painfully slow as there were fears it could further weaken the dike.
Then on Thursday afternoon, Lillian Eijsden, a spokeswoman for Stein Council, announced that the leak in the dike was likely to be caused by a burst water pipe.
“The work to shore up the dike was halted to allow experts to trace the pipe network. It has now been sealed,” she said.
Eijsden said the piping was laid down before the Julianakanaal was built and was not on the diagrams of the dike.
But waterworks company Limburg WML has suggested that the leaking pipe is not the cause of the dike subsidence. A WML spokesman said the pipe could have been broken during or after the subsidence of the dike.
He said the use of sandbags to plug the gap in the dike or earth vibrations might have caused the pipe to break, an NOS news report said. He said a concrete-encased steel pipe does not break without a reason.
WML has thus temporarily refused to accept responsibility for damages from the dike subsidence and is demanding an independent investigation.
[Copyright Novum Nieuws 2004]
Subject: Dutch news