Dozens of communities across Iowa have seen water main breaks over the extremely cold winter, but one expert says we need to prepare for even more breaks when the warm weather arrives.
Greg Huff, CEO of the Iowa Rural Water Association, says the rollercoaster temperatures can be very hard on water pipes. Huff says, “With these repeated cold snaps, the frost levels are lower than they’ve been in recent years due to the cold and that causes these breaks to occur.”
Huff says the Newton-based association is providing a service to Iowa towns that are impacted. “We do provide assistance to communities that have line breaks,” Huff says. “We have circuit riders who go out to the various communities and we help them locate those leaks so they can get them repaired and get the system back up and running.” That service is provided to communities for free, thanks to grants from the U.S.D.A.
Huff says the problem with water main breaks won’t be ending when spring arrives. “What we’re really concerned with is what happens when it starts warming up,” Huff says. “As we get that thaw and things start shifting in the ground again, that’s typically a time when we see an increase in this type of an issue.”
In Hamilton County alone, four communities were placed under boil advisories this winter due to water main breaks. In big cities, Des Moines has reported more than 250 water main breaks in the past few months.
By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City