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M.U.D. seeing a spike in water main breaks

Posted at 5:31 PM, Jan 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-19 18:31:25-05

While the number of water main breaks in Omaha has been steadily increasing for years, utility crews are seeing a spike in incidents.

Barbara Drabnik woke up today to a water main break on her block near 102nd and Center.

"I heard some trucks rumbling and all the sidewalk had lifted up, you could see the water push the whole sidewalk up, that's how much water is coming out of the ground," she said. "It looked like floating tiles."

Around the same time, another water main broke near 91st and T.

The pair brought the number of water main breaks to nearly 90 since Christmas. Jeff Schovanec of Metropolitan Utilities District says winter and ground freezing always means more water main breaks, specifically those made out of cast iron because they become more brittle as time goes on.

"There is a spike right now in breaks. our December and January periods have been really high," Schovanec said. "The temperature is probably the biggest indicator, but right behind that is just the sheer age of our system."

Schovanec says due to time and resources - and replacing gas lines - it will be several more years before 1200 miles of cast iron infrastructure in Omaha is replaced. In the meantime, they expect the uptick in water main breaks to continue.

Drabnik is understanding, despite a disrupted morning.

"They're very responsive," Drabnik said.