Arctic air means frequent water main breaks, cold and busy crews

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MAPLEWOOD, MO (KTVI)- It is not what anyone wants to see on a frigid Sunday morning, water running from a main break. Crews worked quickly to shut the water off at one near Big Bend and Wydown, but repairs can take hours, even longer in the cold.

“When it gets really cold like this,  the water that we’re pumping through our system is just a degree or two above freezing ... 34, 35 degrees,” explained Brian Wilson with Missouri American Water. “And that cold water running through the pipes causes them to constrict a little bit and where they’re weak…that constriction actually causes fractures and they break, water leaks out and we gotta go out and repair it.”

After the repair comes the fill. We came across a crew was putting the finishing touches on repairs on Laclede Station in Maplewood.

There is also concern over water turning into ice

“We do have a couple of salts trucks that we will send out,” said Wilson. “If we get reports that there is water freezing on the road, we’ll salt it. We’ll even have a plow to clear the ice first and salt underneath it to try and prevent it from coming back.”

Workers said they had been busy ever since that temperature plummeted, running from one job to the next. The good news is on a Sunday there’s not as much traffic , making it possible for crews to get to water main breaks sooner.  The bad news is with cold temperatures continuing into Monday, more water main breaks are expected.

“The main breaks are going to continue, unfortunately. It’s just a fact of life when it gets this cold and you have the aging infrastructure that we have in St. Louis County.”

Russell also thanked workers who are making repairs in the cold so customers can continue to take hot showers.