Warmer Temperatures Could Lead To More Water Main Breaks

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Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A city cold spell caused water main breaks around town. Wednesday night, Public Works crews are battling the growing problem, even as Baltimore starts to thaw out.

Christie Ileto has more.

Believe it or not, just because the temperatures are getting warmer doesn’t mean we’re in the clear. In fact, officials say it could get worse.

Gushing water and bursting pipes of area water mains mean water woes for residents.

“He called me and said, `Our pipes burst too. Get home when you can,'” said Danielle Jordan-Ellis.

It was news she didn’t want to hear. She’s one of the many casualties across Maryland of the extreme cold.

David Nickelson’s Buick was encased in five inches of ice when a water main burst on North Avenue.

“I came and saw all this,” he said. “No hope.”

For the last 48 hours or so, Baltimore City Public Works crews have been racing to answer 600 service calls.

“At any particular time, there are 15-20 breaks going on,” said Kurt Kocher, Department of Public Works.

And now that we’re thawing out, it’s only going to get worse.

“There’s going to be a reaction. The ground is going to shift; it’s going to thaw out that ice that’s encasing those service lines and we’re going to see more of this,” Kocher said.

Public Works crews are working around the clock to fix a 10-inch water main. Fortunately, it’s not affecting service at Harbor Hospital.

Last year, city officials said millions of dollars are going toward replacing about 4,000 miles of pipeline running through Baltimore.

“We are greatly accelerating our replacement of water mains because of the fact that our infrastructure is old,” Kocher said.

And while long-term repairs will take years, Public Works is racing to fix the immediate ones.

As part of the pipe replacement program, the city’s goal is to replace 40 miles of pipeline a year.

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