News Feature | October 10, 2017

Nine Blocks Of Manhattan Closed By Water Main Break

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

The power of water infrastructure was on display in Manhattan last month after a water main break shut down nine blocks.

“The main at East 65th Street broke about 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to the city Department of Environmental Protection. Water gushed into the street for about 30 minutes before workers were able to shut off the main. Authorities said that several inches of water flooded basements and businesses along Madison Avenue, which temporarily turned to a stream,” NBC New York reported.

As New York water utility workers attempted to solve the problem, the New York Police Department tweeted out warnings about the closed area, including a photo of the flooded streets.

“Firefighters were also checking buildings for flooding, and at least one member was also seen carrying a person across the street,” DNAInfo reported.

New Yorkers are hardly unfamiliar with the difficulties caused by water main breaks. In 2013, there were 403 water main breaks across the city, according to the Center for an Urban Future's Adam Forman in testimony provided to the city council.

Some ruptures are more inconvenient than others. In June, a water main break shut down service in the No. 6 subway line, with water even gushing inside the train car, NBC New York reported.

Forman pointed to the problem of non-revenue water in New York City.

“Citywide, the unaccounted-for-water rate — the difference between the amount of water that enters distribution mains and the amount that reaches customers — is a staggering 24 percent, double the 10-to-15 percent industry standard. Conditions are especially bad in the Bronx (32 percent unaccounted for), Brooklyn (31 percent) and Manhattan (23 percent),” Forman told the city council.

“The average age of New York City’s 6,400 miles of sewage mains is approximately 84 years. Nearly 4,000 miles of sewer pipe are made of vitreous clay. These older, earthenware pipes are more susceptible to cracking, blockage and groundwater infiltration,” he continued.

New York City, and the U.S., are hardly alone in facing water infrastructure challenges.

Water utilities around the world are facing a growing need for investment. “On a global level, a total of $7.5 to $9.7 trillion is needed in investment for water and sanitation and related equipment” over the next 15 years, according to a CitiGroup analysis.

To read more about water main breaks visit Water Online’s Solutions And Insight For Water Loss Prevention.