Massive Water Main Break Near Brookline Reservoir Forms Sinkhole


BROOKLINE, MA — A massive water main break near the Brookline Reservoir Thursday morning prompted police to close Lee Street near Route 9, as millions of gallons of water washed the ground and road away.

No one was injured. Officials said there was no disruption to water service. Only one lane of Lee Street will be open to traffic for the next few days as crews make repairs, authorities said Thursday night.

“It’s going to be a while before we reopen [the street],” said Erin Gallentine, Brookline’s commissioner of public works.

Read more: Lee Street: Single Lane Open From Rt. 9 To Dudley In Brookline

The main provides water to parts of Boston, Brookline, Milton and Quincy, according to the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority. Residents may have experienced lower water pressure and some discoloration in their water Thursday afternoon because of the main break, according to the water authority.

When the main burst, between 5 and 8 million gallons of chlorinated water rushed out of a trench where a water authority crew had been working to repair a small leak in a pipe, pushing debris and part of the road into the reservoir.

“Once the pipe got damaged, it pushed water out in such force that it opened up that trench, that sinkhole, and created a very dangerous situation,” said Colin O’Connell, the Brookline Fire Department’s deputy chief.

Water authority crews damaged the 48-inch cast iron main around 10:30 a.m., according to Gallentine.

O’Connell said a backhoe driver was in the machine when it fell into the trench, but was able to get out to safety quickly. And although the reservoir is a popular place to walk, no one is believed to have been near that side of the reservoir when the break happened.

Gallentine said Brookline crews and the water authority responded quickly, calling it a “full, coordinated response.” Multiple Brookline departments came to help, including several public works, parks and recreation, police and fire.

“It was a fast response,” she said.

The reservoir was just reopened after a nearly yearlong renovation. The bulk of the renovation centered around the gatehouse on the opposite side of the reservoir.

Because the water authority main was a service line that runs from the Newton Street pump station and feeds the Single Tree storage tank, no water lines heading into people’s homes or businesses needed to be turned off, according to Gallentine.

Gallentine said the town will have to assess the damage to the wall of the reservoir closest to Lee Street, but she said she expected it will need repair, as will the pathway, which was under water.

More photos:

Jenna Fisher/Patch

Brookline police tweeted video of water spouting up into the air along Route 9 shortly after the water main break happened:

Jenna Fisher is a news reporter for Patch. Got a tip? She can be reached at or by calling 617-942-0474. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram (@ReporterJenna). Have a something you’d like posted on the Patch? Here’s how .

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