Cities throughout the Tri-State region are seeing an increase in broken water lines.
Quincy had to close several key streets around the first of the year to allow for repairs while Burlington has seen double-digit breaks in the last two weeks.
Keokuk Water Works General Manager Bill Cole said crews have had to repair about a half-dozen lines throughout the city during the same time frame, including a 12” main near the Keokuk Country Club.
He said the ongoing drought has left no moisture in the soil, causing it to compact during the cold weather.
“In most cases, we are seeing blow-outs of the bottom of the pipes,” says Cole, “and it is just a section the size of your hand that just blows away. It is mainly because the ground has pulled back from the main and is not supporting the main.”
Cole says the mains usually sit 4’-6’ below the ground, so the soil around them does not normally dry out, which shows the intensity of the drought.
He says an example is the soil being uncovered at the site of the new McDonalds.
Cole says some of the breaks can be repaired with a simple clamp while others require a complete rebuilding of the pipe.
He says if there is not significant rainfall this winter, the water lines could continue to break through the spring.