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Record Cold Causes Water Main Concerns

City officials cite the record cold temperatures for an abnormally high number of water main breaks in Evansville. Just in the past two days, crews have been working around the clock to fix nearly a dozen of them.

City officials cite the record cold temperatures for an abnormally high number of water main breaks in Evansville. Just in the past two days, crews have been working around the clock to fix nearly a dozen of them.

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It's more of a gusher than it is a geyser but you might as well call it 'Ol' Faithful.' A water main break at the corner of Martin Luther King and Vine in downtown Evansville closed down the northbound lanes of MLK.

"January is the heavy month for water main breaks," said Allen Mounts, the director of the Evansville Water and Sewer Utility. "In January 2013, we had 23 boil advisories and we roughly have a 3:1 ratio of water main breaks to boil advisories. For every boil advisory you see, there has been three or more water main breaks that have occured."

There have been 10 water main breaks in just two days, none of which more visible than at MLK and Vine, just a stone's throw from the Civic Center.

The seemingly endless stream of water makes driving difficult and walking even more so. The weather may be unpredictable but it's impact on the city's aging water lines is consistent.

"600 miles is a lot of pipe. It's cast iron," Mounts said. "It expands and contracts when water temperature changes. We get all of our water from the Ohio River. When it gets below 45 degrees, then joints start separating and that creates a water main break."

It also creates a soggy, soupy mess for those who try to avoid it and for those who have to fix it.

"Many of our crews are working double shifts. I can't thank them enough," Mounts said. "They're doing a phenomenal job. It's bad enough that it's zero degrees that it's zero degrees but when you're working with water and mud, it freezes rapidly. Pretty tough working conditions."


 

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