Extreme Cold Breaks Water Mains

By: Robert Borrelli
By: Robert Borrelli

The bitter cold is causing enough problems above ground, now, problems are cropping-up below ground as water mains break.

In South Bend alone, eight mains have broken in the last three days.

The trouble surfaced right out of Monroe Street Tuesday morning, bubbling-up and flowing like a river down the block.

Morris Zink and his wife, who live in the 1300 block of Monroe, spent most of the day without water.

Zink says, "It's been ok. I got a little water drained out. I got a couple buckets of water and then I got some drinking water, so we're all set. They said by this afternoon we should be ok."

As the sound of a jack hammer thunders outside their home, South Bend City Water Department’s Bob Krol explains what happens underground when it gets this cold. "Once the ground starts freezing a bit, it shifts a bit, the pipes are cast iron, and they crack, or in this particular case a piece got broken out,” he explained. "We actually got about an 8-inch chunk of water main missing outta' this 6-inch pipe."

Cracked or broken, it doesn't really matter. A neighborhood is without water, while repair crews freeze.

Krol comments, "We've had two easy winters that we have been spoiled with and this winter's gonna' change it a bit, at least in the last couple of weeks or so."

Leaving neighbors like Morris Zink to get along with bottled water. "I feel sorry for those guys,” he said. “I’m in where it's warm. I told my wife, as long as the heat doesn't go out, I said, ‘we can do without water’."

South Bend Water crews have repaired 25-breaks since the first of the year.

In a normal winter, there may be as many as 100 water lines breaks in the city, each costing in the neighborhood of $2000 to $3000 dollars each to repair.


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