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Water Mains Breaking As Maryland Thaws Out After Record Cold

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Some roads remain closed because of water main breaks. The thaw-out over the last few days means more of them are rupturing.

Mike Hellgren looks into what action is being taken.

Inexplicably, the Department of Public Works would not answer even basic questions about their water main repair operations.

The thaw has created more scenes around Maryland. Ice melts, revealing ruptured pipes and main breaks, including near Morgan State University, where crews ripped apart Cold Spring Lane.

Jeanette Baylor works in housekeeping at a dorm there.

“We were told that we couldn’t get much done today because there’s no water in the building. There’s not very much you can do without water,” she said. “I actually have to walk about five blocks to the other building to use the bathroom.”

In Fells Point, the Department of Public Works restored water to 300 homes and businesses after a line ruptured during the worst of the record cold.

Reporter: “You were without water for a long time.”

Resident: “A couple, two days. Yeah.”

David Nickelson’s Buick got national news coverage after it froze over, becoming trapped in the ice after a water main break on North Avenue.

“It’s just like a big block of ice, both wheels, all the way from the base. You can’t even get in it. At least 5 inches or better, thick,” he described.

WJZ followed up. His Skylark is now out of the ice and ready to fly again.

And Maryland is not alone when it comes to breaking mains and bursting pipes. They created a mess in South Carolina and North Carolina.

“Woke up to a six-story frozen waterfall,” someone said in Asheville.

In Minnesota, you could see water pouring through lights. And the water department in Wheeling, W. Va. closed due to water.

But big breaks are nothing new in Baltimore’s aging system–in extreme cold or heat.

Despite WJZ’s requests, DPW would not address the issue Thursday. We have learned they’ve handled more than 500 calls since Monday, with at least 20 breaks under repair and an average of 300 workers trying to fix them.

It’s a relief to those whose taps are now running.

Reporter: “Probably feels good to have water again.”

Resident: “Oh, yeah. You can shower.”

If you have a problem in the city, you can call 311. Elsewhere, call 410-396-5352.

The Department of Public Works replaces about five miles of pipe every year–with plans to increase that number.

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