Water Main Erupts; Breaks More Frequent
Photo: Video by kmtv.com
Omaha, NE -- An uncommon sight for a Rockbrook neighborhood as a water main erupts. Metropolitan Utilities District says they are working hard to get ahead of the breaks, but it could take decades.
On Tuesday thousands of gallons of water were shooting straight up in the air, all from just a six-inch water main. A sight many who live in the area of 102nd & Grover St. didn't imagine they would see in their neighborhood.
"It was like a suburban geyser. It's weird. Old faithful in your neighborhood you don't see that very often,” Jared Bakewell explained. "It's not like a sprinkler. You wouldn't want to go jumping across it. I mean it was blasting."
MUD says breaks like this aren't typical, but the frequency has become normal. Since last year there's been more than 800 water main breaks, 500 in 2012 and 300 so far in 2013. For the last 5 years, MUD has been doing a program to replace aging infrastructure. They say 95% of the breaks are in cast iron pipes.
"The number of main breaks that we work continues to increase each year, we want to try to start to drive those numbers down,” said Jeff Schovanec, Director of MUD Engineering Design. "If we sat on our heels and just reacted and reacted only to the water main breaks, pretty soon they would start to overwhelm us to the point where all we're doing is maintaining the system that we have.”
Cast iron was installed up to the 1970's in all parts of the metro including La Vista, Bellevue, Millard, and Elkhorn. They're using about $26 million a year to replace the 1,200 miles of cast iron water mains. That money comes from rate payers, about $2-4 a month. MUD estimates it could take decades to replace all the piping.