The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority will launch an independent commission to review what caused a major water main to break on Saturday and disrupt Greater Boston’s supply of clean drinking water for 53 hours, state officials said today.
The commission will help the MWRA determine who was responsible for the rupture and how similar problems can be prevented from occurring in the future, said Ian A. Bowles, the state secretary of energy and environmental affairs, who chairs the MWRA board.
Bowles said the authority, which will hold an emergency board meeting Thursday to discuss the pipe break, wants to ensure that the companies responsible for catastrophic failure pay for the still-unknown cost of the repairs.
“We would like to find the accountable party, and then have them pay for the cost of the repairs and some of the inconveniences,” Bowles said. “But that’s in some ways ahead of the game. We need to get the basic answers first, of how did this happen and whose responsibility was it.”
In Weston today, the search for the pipe clamp that failed on Saturday, causing the massive leak, ended this afternoon with its whereabouts still unknown.
The clamp, 10 feet in diameter and weighing about a ton, let loose last Saturday, sending hundreds of millions of gallons into the Charles River and causing a safe water scare for 2 million Greater Boston residents.
Today, crews under the supervision of the MWRA part of the bank of the Charles River that had been scoured by torrents of water released by the pipe.
As they did the restoration work, crews kept an eye out for the clamp, but saw no sign of it, said MWRA spokesman Tom Lindberg. On Monday, State Police divers conducted their own search, but also failed to locate the equipment.
On Thursday, the MWRA expects to begin dredging the river and contractors will move the collected mud onto a parking lot where MWRA staff will search for the clamp, if any portion of it has survived, said Lindberg.
Today's top task, however, was restoration of the damaged banks, combined with an effort to limit other forms of environmental damage to the river. A 700-foot-long orange containment boom was stretched out onto the water, seeking to keep silt from spreading downstream, officials said.
"People will still be able to canoe along the river, going around the boom,'' Lindberg said.
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