News Feature | August 14, 2014

Water Main Breaks Increasing In Omaha

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

omahareg

As water usage rises in Omaha, NE, water crews are faced with a storm of infrastructure problems. 

"Hot temperatures and peak water consumption have created the spike [in water main breaks] and made repairs the priority for Metropolitan Utilities District crews," KETV reported.

"There is a priority system to update the older water lines, with locations where the sewer separation project has streets torn up already at the top of the list."

As Brad Dickson put it in his "Breaking Brad" humor column at the Omaha World Herald, "When it's hot outside, most cities turn on fire hydrants for kids to run through. In Omaha, children just stand around, waiting several minutes for the inevitable water main break."

Joel Christensen, a top Metropolitan Utilities District official, analyzed the situation in an interview with KETV. 

"When pumpage picks up and gets real high, there always is a surge in main breaks, it seems like," he said in the report . "So, we're in one of those periods."

"We have a lot of our water main breaks is in the older pipe, the cast iron pipe," he added.

During a July week when several pipes broke, water usage was at 167 million gallons. "Numbers like that stress the brittle, old pipes," the report said. 

Water main breaks are a headache for officials because they can shut down other parts of the city. In Omaha, water main breaks tend to lead to traffic jams. "Motorists were urged to avoid the area while repair work was under way," the Omaha World Herald reported

Nebraska has reported $1.8 billion in tap water infrastructure needs over the next two decades, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Image credit: "Downtown Omaha Skyline," shannonpatrick17 © 2007, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license:  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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