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Sewage pipe on banks of Schuylkill River breaks again

Sewage treatment plants flooded; dozens of homes damaged

READING, Pa. - It's happened again. A sewage pipe that broke a couple weeks ago has ruptured once more.

The 60-year-old, 42-inch pipe in Reading actually broke Thursday, but the level of the river was too high for crews to get to it, city officials said.

They believe the heavy rains caused the pipe to break again. The last break, which pumped millions of gallons of sewage into the river and took 35 hours to repair, was attributed to either heavy rains from Hurricane Irene or the earthquake a few days earlier.

The Schuylkill River is a source of drinking water for Pottstown and Philadelphia. The river isn't expected to fall back below flood stage in Pottstown until late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

Charlie Jones, Reading's public works director, said he hopes crews can begin repairs Friday evening, but the high water and soggy ground are still hampering their efforts.

When work does begin, Jones said the first step will be to lay bypass lines that would pump out the trenches once the excavators start digging.

The same pipe broke in 2008.

Jones said the city is building a new $15 million sewage pipeline. Construction is expected to be completed by March 2012.

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