A note from the Clean Water Council: In 2011 CNN reported that 700 water main breaks occur in the United States every day–many experts believe that is a conservative number. In 2011, Houston, alone, reported 700 water main breaks in one day. Many hot central cities are facing similar problems. An equally important problem are the thousands of undetected leaking underground pipes, which experts say leak 7 billion gallons of water daily, and if gone undetected, can cause dangerous and costly sink holes.
This blog is not intended to list every water and sewer main break that happens every week. Its intent is to repeatedly hammer this message home to important decision makers who are largely unaware of the immensity of the problem. Please keep the message strong and email this blog to anyone you think needs to know. With thanks–The Clean Water Council
National: The Senate voted 83-14 for a water infrastructure bill on Wednesday, the first such bill the upper chamber has moved since 2007. The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) provides critical flood protection for communities across the country, maintains the flow of commerce, funds safe drinking water and wastewater infrastructure, and will create up to 500,000 new jobs. Despite strong support in the Senate, the bill faces an uncertain future in the House, where lawmakers have raised concerns about allowing the Obama administration to pick the water facilities that would be boosted.
New York: A new state law went into effect May 1 to alert the public about municipal sewage spills within hours so they can decide if it is safe to be near the water. A state Department of Environmental Conservation news release touting the law lacked a key detail — the agency hasn’t put out rules that sewer operators and county health officials can follow to help them report any spills into rivers and streams.
Maryland: Officials say an estimated 340,000 gallons of sewage has spilled into Fee Fee Creek in Maryland Heights. Metropolitan Sewer District crews worked Saturday to stop raw sewage from a 21-inch broken sewer line from from spilling into the creek.
Washington: 68,000 gallons of sewage was dumped into Lake Washington near Marina Park after a transmitter failed on a pump at the Kirkland Wastewater Station. It took crews about an hour to stop the overflow and longer to clean up trash and visible material. Three red signs at the water’s edge gave the bad news for the first day of the boating season. Contaminated, Do not swim, Do not wade, Do not get in the water.
North Carolina: Officials said seven inches of rain in one weekend in early May caused multiple sewer spills in Morganton. Over 19,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled into Hunting Creek and the Catawba River. Officials said most of the spill was rainwater. The third spill which happened at Morganton’s Waste water Treatment Plant is ongoing. According to officials, the ongoing spill at the waste water plant could total more than a million gallons.
North Carolina: A sewage leak caused millions of gallons of raw sewage to spill into the French Broad River in Buncombe County in late April, according to sewage district officials. Click HERE to see pictures of the spill. Stan Boyd, Metropolitan Sewerage District’s Chief Engineer, said the leak started around 8:15 a.m. while crews were doing routine work on pumps at the treatment plant. The leak was fixed at 3 p.m. Boyd estimates one million gallons of sewage spilled per hour. Woodfin Riverside Park has been closed because of the spill.
Ohio: Residents of Ashwood Drive found their street under water May 15, despite the dry weather after a water main break between Electric and Redwood boulevards. Avon Lake Municipal Utilities representative said that at approximately 7 p.m, power surges in Avon Lake caused pressure fluctuations at Avon Lake Municipal Utilities’ Water Filtration Plant. The stutter effect caused a break in the in the 50-year old water main on Ashwood Drive between Electric and Redwood, affecting approximately 20 homes.
Minnesota: Lakeville’s Cherry View Elementary School will be closed the remainder of the school year after a water main break in mid-May. After an assessment by structural engineers, the decision has been made to close the building for the remainder of the school year, officials said. Students will be assigned to other area schools for the remainder of the year.
Maryland: Officials in Baltimore County worked overnight to repair an 8-inch water main that burst Monday afternoon near Woodlawn. It happened just before 12:30 p.m. along Painted Post Road, off Old Court Road. About 100 homes were without water for about 12 hours. Service was eventually restored overnight. A car that fell into the hole created by the water main break was towed from the water.
District of Columbia: A downtown Washington water main ruptured early Saturday, shooting a muddy rapid down 17th Street NW, buckling a section of roadway and transforming an excavation site into a massive mid-city lake. Several pieces of heavy construction equipment, worth millions of dollars, were submerged in the 100-by-200-foot site. A construction official said the water in the hole was at least three stories deep. “This is a lot of water,” said George S. Hawkins, general manager of the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority. The line was installed in 1897, and at 116, it’s about half again as old as the average District water main.
Hawaii: At the site of a water main break the McCully Shopping Center at Kapiolani Boulevard, an estimated 200,000 gallons of water spewed out. In this case, that’s a loss of 1,000 gallons a minute, all coming from a 16 inch cast iron pipe nearly 60 years old. “This could very well be due to the aging infrastructure,” said Tracy Burgo, Board of Water Supply Information Officer.