Main breaks continue to plague city
The Washington Community Y was the latest building in town to be without water this morning as Washington city crews worked to repair a water main break on East Main Street in front of the building.
With well over 20 water line breaks so far this year, Washington City Administrator Brent Hinson said that there have been several breaks over the last few days. This is on top of a rash of main breaks that happened about a week ago. Hinson said the changing of the air temperature from warm to cool and back is causing the ground to shift, which is the main cause for the breaks. He also said that the cast-iron water mains that are breaking are over 75 years old.
“From everything I have heard from surrounding communities, everyone is having these problems,” he said. “It is a combination of some tough temperature changes, shifting ground, and old pipes.”
Hinson said that he is unsure which buildings other than the Y are served by the valve on East Main. He said PVC piping is being used to replace the water lines that have broken.
A leaking gate valve was the problem in front of the Y this morning, Hinson said. He said the Y didn’t have water service for a couple of hours this morning.
The city itself is also fighting the cold temperatures. Hinson said the city is seeing some freezing lines. While most are individual service lines, some of the freezing is happening on the city’s side of the water shutoff box. He said the city is responsible for the main and the line before the shutoff box. He has not heard any reports of the actual mains freezing.
“We are trying to do everything we can to work with the folks,” Hinson said, of the city’s efforts to repair breaks. “We had one instance where we ended up having to get the neighbor to run a garden hose over so they could be provided with some water while the problem was being addressed. You just have to do those kinds of things in these types of situations to help people out.”
Hinson said the city is remaining within its budget for water main repair and overtime pay for workers. He is concerned if the breaks continue at this rate for the remainder of the year, the city might run outside of the budget. He said that in 2011, there were about 43 breaks. He is concerned if the breaks continue, this year could top that number.
“I think 2011 was kind of a record-setting year — and not the kind of record you want to set,” Hinson said.
He said the city council regularly budgets for water main replacement as part of its standard infrastructure maintenance. The city replaces a certain amount of the old cast-iron mains with PVC mains every year.