Archive for Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Water main breaks reported

December 26, 2012


Lawrence city utility crews have spent part of the holiday season repairing water main breaks, but officials say the number of leaks is no more than usual for this time of year.

"As things get colder and the water gets colder, you see things break a little more often," said Mike Lawless, assistant director of operations for the city's utilities department. He said the extended drought has also contributed to problems because the dry soil pulls away from the pipes, giving them more room to vibrate and break.

A pipe break in the 600 block of Walnut in north Lawrence early Wednesday affected service for 11 customers in that area. Lawless said crews expected to have that leak fixed by late afternoon. It was the fourth water main break in the city since Christmas Eve, Lawless said.

On Christmas Day, a water main break on W. 21st Street between Mitchell Street and Naismith Drive brought out crews who had to close that part of the street to make repairs. Lawless said the repairs were completed around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Two other water main breaks were reported on Monday, he said.

The city of Topeka was reporting a rash of water main breaks on Wednesday, with five teams of repair crews as well as contract crews working at various locations to fix leaks. The city was reporting on its Twitter page that the frozen ground was causing pipes to shift and break.

Topeka spokeswoman Suzie Gilbert said there had been 40 water main breaks in that city since Sunday, including 13 that had occurred by mid-afternoon Wednesday.


bearded_gnome 1 year, 3 months ago

I agree that our city's priorities are sure messed up!. we've had a couple of articles indicating that replacing old water mains is far behind what it should be.

yet: we want to put city money into restoring the train depot [yes I know most would be grants but some would be city $s]; we wanna build a very expensive wizbang rec center/KU athletic zone thingy; we wanna build a new waste water treatment plant to support our supposed expected growth [when we cannot reliably supply water to our current residents]; we fund the annual salary for a city sustainability officer; we expand/remodel the library [which it did need] and put in a $75K worth shiney thingy that doesn't fascilitate the library's mission; etc.

yeah, that's messed up priorities.


bearded_gnome 1 year, 3 months ago

And thank you gentlemen for keeping the water flowing on tis holiday season in a very cold time.


bearded_gnome 1 year, 3 months ago

Mikekt, thanks for a very informative post.


thuja 1 year, 3 months ago

They must not bury pipes very deep in Topeka.


Thinking_Out_Loud 1 year, 3 months ago

I am not very smart or knowledgable on these matters. I am not particularly erudite. Rather, then, than commenting on the issues raised in earlier posts, allow me merely to express my appreciation for those crews who responded to ensure the rest of us had water available during our holiday.

Thank you all, ladies and gentlemen--we understand that you had to take time from your own families, and we thank them, too. We have noticed your sacrifices this holiday season. We wish you all its blessings and we hope for you the happiest of New Years.


Joshua Montgomery 1 year, 3 months ago

Best wishes to all of the hard working utility workers who are out punching holes in the frozen ground on Christmas day.

I've seen how hard these guys work to keep your water flowing safely. We should all take a moment to think about how much cold, thankless, dangerous work it takes to make our tap water flow.

Thanks guys.


mikekt 1 year, 3 months ago

More than likely, the problem is the temperature of the water in the pipes and the pipe joints themselves where different sections of pipe are joined to each other..

Both pipe and water contract in size until they reach 39 degrees. At 39 degrees, the pipe continues to contact but the water actually begins to expand in the space that it's volume occupies, causing pressure surges that probably flow from coldest spots in a piping system to the warmer spots in a piping system or towards volume/pressure storing sites such as water towers

To address that problem, many utilities try to control the waters temperature by mixing well water, at the underground's warmer temperature, with colder surface waters from rivers & lakes.

I would guess that water taken now from rivers & lakes is colder than normal, because of their decreased levels of heat retaining water in them ?

The other problem would be Leadite, which is a sulfur based joint cement, that was used as a replacement for the older pre 1920s style Hot Poured Melted Lead Sealed Pipe Joints, before modern rubber sealed joints were invented in 50s to 60s era..

No utility was forced to move with the times, engineering wise, so changing technologies probably moved from place to place, as utility companies accepted new methods, so it makes calling these events more difficult unless you have access to see the break in person and examine the factors that contributed. Dead Pipes Don't Tell Lies.

Lawrence, like many US Cities, is a collection of engineering trends that happened over many years, who's consequence we're not always immediately visible to be observed & understood.

Leadite does not expand and contract at the same rate as does the cast iron pipes, so stress is created by temperature changes at the pipe joints. As I understand it, Leadite is also not the best electrical conductor, causing stray currents to jump from pipe section, to pipe section, thru the surrounding ground, which causes electrolytic damages to the pipes at the joint ends.


Lathrup 1 year, 3 months ago

Having spent most of my working life outdoors in very cold and very hot weather, I really feel for the crews doing the work. If there is anything colder than being down in a trench, wet, with 10F to 20F temps and a good crosswind, I haven't heard about it. My hat's off to the men in the hole.


Phil Minkin 1 year, 3 months ago

Maybe the city should think about fixing our crumbing infrastructure instead of building the Taj Mah rec-center.


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