WIUM Tristates Public Radio

The Drought and Burst Water Mains

Sep 10, 2012

This summer's drought created some unexpected problems for the Macomb Public Works Department. Operations Manager Jason Bainter said the dry conditions caused an unusually high number of water main breaks.

“The largest one we had was out on Bower Road. I believe that the ground shrinking pulled the fittings on the water main apart,” Bainter said.

He said water main breaks are often spotted when water comes to the surface but this break happened in the middle of a corn field. He said a water plant operator noticed a larger than usual amount of water being pumped out. The employee advised a supervisor and the city then began searching for the leak.

Bainter said the water mains that are breaking are older ones made of cast iron.

“We've had several that have had rust spots basically where the pipe has split anywhere from a foot to 24 or 25 inches,” Bainter said.

Bainter believes there have been close to 20 breaks.  He estimated each cost $3,000 to $5,000 to repair. He said that has not impacted other projects because the department budgets for the possibility of some water main breaks.