Water main breaks untimely, unfortunate


City workers say it comes with the territory and the weather. One city official calls the timing ironic and unfortunate.

Work crews cut through the concrete on Atlantic Ave. Thursday morning, trying to repair a water main that broke Wednesday night.

Muddy puddles remain on the street and it's not a pretty sight, says motorist Kathleen Stiak.

"It's a shame, it's a pity," she said.

And city officials say it's all but unavoidable. The recent spike in water main breaks are blamed on the current cold snap followed by a slight warm up.

"The ground shrinks and swells," Ed Buchanan, Raleigh Public Utilities, said. "We have a lot of clay soil here. It's a bit night clay, and it shrinks and swells, and pipelines, you know, they're not really flexible. And so, when the ground shifts, it can crack them."

Four water mains broke Wednesday.

Then Thursday morning there was a large leak on North Hills Dr.

Most times tens of thousands of gallons are lost at the worst possible time.

"All you can say is it's unfortunate timing," Buchanan said. "You don't want to lose any water right now. It is unfortunately ironic that we are asking people to conserve and then we have these main breaks."

The breaks are the worst in recent months. There was one on Avent Ferry Road in November -- 500,000 gallons were lost.

And the breaks will most likely continue until early spring.

One good thing about a main break is that residents near the break usually lose water pressure in their homes quickly, so they can call and report the leak as soon as possible. The quick response allows officials to get the situation under control quickly.

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