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Harsh winter results in major increase in water main breaks

Published: Thursday, April 24, 2014 11:42 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, April 24, 2014 11:44 a.m. CST

At Newton WaterWorks, employees will remember this past winter for the snow, ice and cold combining for a budget-bursting season of broken water mains, burst water meters and frozen pipes.

From October 2013 through March, there were 30 water main breaks, and another 21 water main breaks occurred from January to March, according to a news release from Newton WaterWorks. This is more than double the previous year. There are approximately 150 miles of water main in the city.

WaterWorks officials said an estimated $62,000 plus $10,000 in overtime will have been spent by the end of the budget year in June. The amount budgeted in FY13-14 for water main repair is $32,000 and $5,000 overtime.

Many of the older mains lie under the streets, and at least $30,000 will be spent on street repairs and parking restoration. Also, an outside contractor was hired to look for breaks using leak detection equipment.

Not only are the actual repairs costly, but high water loss is also quite costly. For instance, water loss in March is estimated at 20 percent of the water produced for the month. That equates to 30,000,000 gallons equal to $42,000 worth of treated water. Normal water loss runs between 4 and 10 percent.

Because of the severity of the winter, additional breaks may surface yet this spring.

“The utility would like to thank its customers for being patient with disruptions in service,” WaterWorks General Manager L.D. Palmer stated in the news release. “Customers have been very helpful in reporting breaks.”

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