Water main break destroys street near Los Angeles, California - July 29, 2014    

"All the land between New England and Mexico is being pulled at a diagonal, and it is not just the fault lines that are feeling stress. All will participate when the New Madrid Fault makes a serious adjustment."  ZetaTalk


Since 2013, a conspicuous number of water main breaks and sinkholes have been reported across the U.S.  While water lines commonly rupture during winter months, especially in regions experiencing subfreezing temperatures, large water mains are fracturing in southern states where ground temperatures remain above freezing.

Notable water main breaks and sinkholes during the first 6 days of 2013:


January 1

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania - "Super Sinkhole Walter" and 40 Others

Harrisburg officials expect it will take several weeks to repair damage from a massive sinkhole that forced dozens of residents to evacuate.

The city’s Department of Public Works said it could be another 30 days before water, sewer and gas lines are replaced in the neighborhood where the sinkhole is causing problems.  "Super Sinkhole Walter," as the North Fourth Street collapse has been called, is big enough to have its own Foursquare check-in location.

On Thursday, the massive hole partially swallowed a construction backhoe.

The hole opened Monday morning, and later opened a bigger hole.

A spokesman for Mayor Linda Thompson said the city must replace the entire water and sewer system lines on the block.
The spokesman, Robert Philbin, said new water and sewer lines will not be working for five to six weeks.

These two large sinkholes in the 2100 block of North Fourth Street are among at least 40 sinkholes covered by steel plates citywide, according to Kevin Hagerich, director of the city’s Department of Public Works.

Interactive Map of Known Sinkholes in Harrisburg







January 3

Malibu, California - Recurring Water Main Breaks

Another water main break in Malibu collapsed part of John Tyler Drive as crews worked to repair the leak.

A broken water main and partially collapsed road have narrowed traffic to one lane on Malibu Country Drive near John Tyler Drive.

Between 30 and 35 customers in Malibu Country Estates are without water. Los Angeles County Public Works received a call about a partially collapsed roadway on Malibu Country Drive at 9:30 a.m, according to spokesman Mike Kaspar.

Kaspar said the road is cut down to one lane for approximately 100 yards.

This is the second water main break reported in Malibu in as many days. On Wednesday, the main that supplies water to the Adamson House broke and employees from Public Works worked overnight on a temporary fix and permanent reroute of the underground pipeline. Westbound traffic on Pacific Coast Highway was cut down to one lane between Malibu Inn and Serra Road while crews made the repair.




Grand Rapids, Michigan - Big Hole / Deep Water

A water main break has closed the westbound lanes of 44th Street between Division Avenue and U.S. 131 in Wyoming, Michigan

A broken valve is causing complications in repairing the break in a 16-inch water main and the road may be closed until Saturday, authorities now say.

The valve, which broke in a partially-closed position, must be replaced before the water main can be fixed, Wyoming Director of Public Works William Dooley said in a statement on Friday, Jan. 4.

The water main broke area of 44th Street SW and Clay Avenue on Thursday.

The westbound lanes of 44th Street are closed near Clay Avenue, and Clay is closed from 44th Street north to Louisiana Avenue.

Dooley said the repair is taking much longer than anticipated because of the valve problem. Water is still flowing from the main because the valve cannot be closed.

A private contractor has been called to help city crews and they expect to fix the valve this afternoon.

Dooley said the water main break has not affected drinking water to area residents.

“Once the valve has been replaced, we will start work to repair the water main and hope to have that wrapped up yet today. We recognize and apologize for the inconvenience that this has caused to businesses, area residents and motorists and are working as quickly as we can to return things to normal," Dooley said in the statement.




January 4

New Orleans, Louisiana - Cajun Geyser

A water main break in the middle of Adams Street near Maple poured water into the streets Friday afternoon.

Sewerage and Water Board crews arrived on the scene around 1:30 pm to address the incident.

An hour or so later, the break erupted into a full-blown geyser, showering Adams Street with water.

Water was rising on the sides of the street near several Uptown businesses, creeping up on the tires of some cars.





January 5

Atlanta, Georgia

A massive water main break caused headaches for both residents and drivers on Clairmont Road in Chamblee, more than 24 hours after it first happened.

A huge hole opened up in the road between Airport Road and Wingate Road Saturday morning. Residents in the area were without water for much of the weekend after the 30-inch water main break.

DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan told Channel 2 Action News that they first had to clear out the water from the hole to determine the cause before they could begin repairing it. Major damage to the road and the sidewalk could still be seen well into Sunday morning.

Brennan says the pipe's age could have been a factor in the break.

Police were on the scene to re-direct traffic away from the area near DeKalb-Peachtree Airport.



Sacramento, California

Water main break floods East Sacramento neighborhood

A 16-inch water main broke Saturday morning, turning two streets into ponds and damaging several homes along 39th and D Streets.



Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority says that a 30-inch line broke in the Oakland/Bloomfield area near the South Millvale Bridge at Morewood Street.

Two Port Authority stations and a portion of bus routes were closed after the water main break.

The break happened in North Oakland around 6 a.m. and the Neville Ramp, Herron and Negley Port Authority stations were closed as a result, our news partners at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report.

The East Liberty station is as far as inbound buses can go and outbound buses will make it to the 26th Street Ramp, the Post-Gazette says.

Officials said the water main break exposed a 24-inch Equitable gas line.

“Public Safety is our No. 1 concern,” Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority Director of Operations Tom Palmosina said in a press release. “PWSA crew responded immediately and began isolating the leak.”

PWSA officials said that all efforts are being focused on the gas line.



January 6

Seattle, Washington

A large water main break on Sunday caused the closure of State Route 20 in Port Townsend near the ferry terminal.

Around 3 a.m., Police and Public Works responded to the 1800 block of Water Street where the break was reported near the Tides Inn and Suites.

Portions of State Route 20 pavement were raised several inches above the original road bed as pressure from the water pushed up to the surface. When crews first arrived on scene they found water running west down the road. At least one business, The Food Co-op, 414 Kearney Street, had flood damage as water rushed into the building.

The closure affects commuters traveling to the Port Townsend-Coupeville ferry route.  Detour routes for ferry traffic have been set up through city streets.

Water to at least a dozen businesses and residents was shut off but was restored by 3:30 p.m.

The Department of Transportation will not have materials available to begin repairing the highway until sometime Monday, according to Claudia Bingham Baker, WSDOT communications manager.

Detours will remain in place until crews determine the road is safe to reopen, which would occur Monday at the earliest.

The cause of the break is under investigation.


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Comment by Howard on April 3, 2013 at 8:04pm

5 Water Main Breaks in 5 Days - Hoboken, New Jersey (Apr 1)
Following four water main breaks since Thursday, March 28, a fifth one was reported early Monday morning, April 1st.

A boil water advisory remained in effect in Hoboken Thursday night following two earlier water main breaks that blew out pressure and created a sinkhole that swallowed a car.

Residents in the area said at one point, there was about 4 feet of water flowing down the street.

“I was working upstairs when I heard a big thud, like something fell down. I looked out the window and I saw a huge crack in the street with water gushing out,” one man said.

Water flooded the streets, seeping into nearby homes and businesses and causing the street to buckle. By the time crews arrived, a sinkhole had opened up and swallowed a car.

The first water main break sent water rushing into nearby basements that were destroyed during Sandy.

“All of these basements got flooded about 4-feet or so,” resident Robert Costa said.

“We cleared it all out right after Sandy so we lost everything again,” resident Sean MaGee added.

Another man who just replaced his boiler after Sandy had a few feet of water in his basement because of the main break.

Once again, residents were evacuating and preparing for days or even weeks of hardship.







Comment by Howard on March 25, 2013 at 3:20am

Geyser Gushes From Broken Water Main in Toronto (Mar 23)
An underground pipe ruptured and sent water gushing out of the ground like a geyser in Toronto’s east end on Saturday morning.

Water sprayed several metres into the air and pounded against a townhouse complex on Kingston Road, just east of Galloway Road.


Comment by Howard on March 25, 2013 at 1:44am

Massive Water Main Break Wreaks Havoc Near Washington DC (Mar 19)

An unexplained break in a 60-inch water main in Chevy Chase, Maryland caused a 30-foot geyser that knocked out a street light and created a massive crater that swallowed sidewalk, trees and roadway, prompting mandatory water restrictions for 1.8 million people in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.

A 20-foot section of the five-foot pipe at the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and Chevy Chase Lake Drive had to be replaced, according to officials from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission.

The cause of the break is still being investigated and may take months to determine, officials said, who noted the incident resulted in the loss of nearly 60 million gallons of water.

Damages to the area surrounding the water main break will take weeks to repair, WSSC officials said. Restoration is needed to roadways and sidewalks and damages trees will also have to be removed, officials said.

As a result, the far right northbound lane on Connecticut Avenue remains closed near the break, according to WSSC officials.






Comment by Howard on March 6, 2013 at 3:56am

Water Main Break, Multiple Sinkholes Affect 23 Homes in San Francisco (Mar 5)

Things have gotten worse for the San Francisco neighborhood where a water main broke last Wednesday. Streets were flooded and several homes were damaged that day and there were also two resulting sinkholes, one in the street and one in a backyard. Now, there are at least three more and three homes have been red-tagged.

A handful of city agencies met to talk about the disaster Monday. They then went to the neighborhood to meet with residents. Since day one when there was one sinkhole in the street and one in the backyard, three more have been discovered, the most recent one on Monday afternoon at a house where the owners just moved in only two weeks ago. They haven't been ordered to move out yet, but three other families have.

Three homes on 15th Avenue are red-tagged. The sign says, "Soil unstable beneath home." Two of those red-tagged houses share a 20-foot sinkhole inside the homes. "It measures 20 feet in diameter, probably 4 to 5 feet deep," said Chuck Wilson, one homeowner's brother.

The 16-inch underground water main on 15th Avenue broke just before 3 a.m. The water exploded up through the concrete and asphalt road above and created a river two-feet deep flowing across Wawona. Twenty-three homes were affected. That day, there was one sinkhole in the street where the break happened and one more in a backyard, but the red tags came days later when more sinkholes began appearing.

Cindy Coyne's home is red-tagged. She says State Farm is now backpedaling on coverage it promised at the beginning. "We need to know now. We need to make decisions for our future, for our children who are living in a hotel at the airport," she said.



Comment by Howard on February 24, 2013 at 6:59pm

Water Main Break Shatters Windows in Texas (Feb 22)

A water main break shattered the windows of a house in Fort Worth early Friday morning.

Around 12:15 a.m., a man inside his house at 3955 Pate Dr. said it sounded like hail was hitting his home. When he went to investigate,  he discovered a large water main had ruptured in the street in front of his home.

The "hail" turned out to be loose rocks displaced by the water that was shooting out of the broken pipe and into the man's front yard.

The man also discovered that three windows in the front of his home had been shattered and water from the line was coming inside the house.

The Fort Worth Water Department closed four valves to stop the flow of water about one hour and 45 minutes after the man called 911.

Emergency crews said they couldn't immediately identify why the line breached.



Comment by Derrick Johnson on February 13, 2013 at 8:41am

San Francisco Pipe Burst Spills Chlorine Into Creek, Kills Dozens Of Rare Fish

SAN FRANCISCO -- Dozens of fish, including rare steelhead, were killed after a drinking water pipe burst and sent thousands of gallons of chlorinated water rushing into a San Francisco Bay area creek.

The city's Public Utilities Commission said it discovered the leak Saturday near Crystal Springs Reservoir, part of a drinking water system that serves 2.5 million Bay Area residents.

Officials said they expected the fish death toll to reach a couple of hundred fish.

"That's obviously especially problematic – killing any fish is problematic – but with threatened steelhead, you do not want to have that happen," said Steven Ritchie, assistant general manager for water at the commission.

San Mateo Creek flows about five miles from the reservoir to San Francisco Bay.

Ritchie said the 1932-era pipe that broke was likely corroded, but the official cause of the burst is not yet known.

When the pipe burst, it sent chlorinated water at 1,000-gallons per minute down a hillside and into the creek.

Crews were able to slow, but not stop, the leak after several hours, and repairs to the pipe are ongoing, Ritchie said.

Ritchie said he does not expect a long-term environmental problem there.

State Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Regional Water Quality Control Board are investigating the incident and could assess penalties for the fish killed and any environmental damage.


Comment by Howard on February 10, 2013 at 1:03am

Water Main Break Floods Streets in St. Paul Minnesota (Feb 9)
A 20-inch water main ruptured in downtown St. Paul late Friday, sending an estimated 1.75 million gallons of water coursing through the streets of Lowertown, disrupting service and prompting the city to test the area's tap water.

The break occurred around midnight on Wall Street, between Fifth and Sixth streets, with water cascading down Wall and Broadway streets toward Kellogg Boulevard for two hours.

For nearly 12 hours after the break, the city advised residents in affected areas not to drink the tap water until testing was completed.

On Saturday afternoon, production distribution manager Jim Graupmann said crews had a chance to inspect the pipe and were attempting to determine the cause.

"We may not know, ever, but we'll take a look and see," he said.

The pipe dates back to 1952, Graupmann said, but added that isn't older than average for the system. The last time he recalled a break of this magnitude was in 1991.

A large swath of St. Paul had its water service affected by the break. The exact number of affected customers is unknown, but homes and businesses east of Interstate 35E, west of U.S. 52, south of University Avenue and north of the bluff line experienced water supply and pressure issues, according to Graupmann.

That area includes St. Paul's Lower West Side, Downtown and Lower West 7th neighborhoods.



Comment by Howard on February 9, 2013 at 7:04pm

Widespread Broken Water Lines Prompts State of Emergency in Arizona (Feb 7)

2,000 families are without running water due to widespread water outages that have plagued several northeastern Arizona counties and provoked emergency orders by Arizona's governor and the Navajo Nation's president.

A total of 1,729 water outages from a severely damaged water system consisting of concrete and clay pipes has been confirmed by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA).

"In all my years I've never seen anything like this," said Erny Zah, spokesman for the Navajo Nation's president and vice president. "People are starting to get an idea of how serious this is."




Comment by Howard on February 1, 2013 at 3:03am

Further indications of a tearing St. Lawrence Seaway.

Two Large Sinkholes Result from Toronto Water Main Break (Jan 30)

One of two large sinkholes that opened up on Glenwood Crescent, in the St. Clair Avenue and O'Connor Drive area, on Jan. 30, 2013.

A water main break continues to cause big problems in East York, near the St. Clair Avenue East and O’Connor Drive area, Thursday morning.

The leak that started Wednesday afternoon caused two massive sinkholes to open up on Glenwood Crescent.

A resident of Glenwood Cres. called police at 2:50 p.m. after spotting two sinkholes and a depression in the pavement. Water was seen spurting from the holes.

Sgt. Gary Woods attended the scene and estimated the largest hole to be about 3.5 metres by 2.5 metres. Subsequent media reports suggest the hole had lengthened to about 7.5 metres.

Nearby residents struggled to make do without water on Wednesday night.

“Looks like we’re going to have microwaved leftovers tonight,” said Sarah Fairweather, who lives across from one of the sinkholes.

No one informed Fairweather as to when the water would be back.

“The main issue is the use of toilets and washing in the morning,” she said.




Comment by Howard on January 30, 2013 at 5:42am

Update on the historic water main breaks in Montreal:

"The urban tsunami that gushed through parts of McGill University on Monday and Tuesday has left the downtown campus in a state of turmoil and disrepair.

Twelve buildings were affected, 80 classes cancelled, 10 laboratories relocated, 24 classes relocated and thousands of students and staff uprooted after a broken water main on Monday afternoon sent water pouring down the hills of the McGill campus.

As city officials struggled to find the cause of the water main break on Tuesday, many on the McGill campus said this was the worst flood they had seen. McTavish St. turned into a raging river and brought YouTube notoriety to a young woman who ventured to cross it, finally succumbing to the current and sliding all the way down the street.

Michael Di Grappa, vice-principal of administration and finance for McGill, said it’s not yet known if the city of Montreal will be responsible for the damages, which he estimated as being in the “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

What is known is that the repairs will be on top of McGill’s growing deferred maintenance needs, now estimated at about $650 million.

“To have a flood further damaging our buildings is really not good,” said Jonathan Mooney, president of the Post Graduate Students’ Society. “This really puts us in a bad position.”

It could be weeks, or even months, until everything on campus can be fixed, replaced or dried out. Making sure mould doesn’t develop will be a top priority, Di Grappa said.

Ron Proulx, executive director of facilities, operations and development, showed reporters around the James Building annex — one of the most damaged sites — where a strong odour of dampness rose from soaked office furniture and equipment. A few inches of water still covered the floor on Tuesday afternoon.

“The water broke a back window like a tsunami,” Proulx said, adding that all computer equipment and much of the furniture in the annex would have to be replaced.

Most affected were the Wong Building for chemical engineering, which probably will be closed for at least a week. Also, the James Administration Building, the Service Point, the Welcome Centre, the Birks Building and Wilson Hall were closed on Tuesday.

“We’re working very hard to make sure that we can resume normal activity as soon as possible, but it’s very difficult,” Di Grappa said. “Other buildings will remain closed probably for the rest of the week and some of the spaces won’t be able to be occupied for longer than that. It could be, in at least one case, several months before we can relocate.”

And there were some damages you couldn’t really put a price tag on. For example, this week is the Student Society of McGill University festival — SSMU Fest — and Monday night was to have been Winter Activities Night. Although it was rescheduled for Tuesday, SSMU president Josh Redel said it was very disappointing, especially with freezing rain forecast for Tuesday night.

“This involves 150 groups, thousands of students and weeks of coordination,” Redel said. If nothing else, the flood had certainly dampened spirits on campus.

“This is way worse than any flood we’ve seen before,” Redel said. “It’s a real issue because the damage is pretty extensive. And even trying to reschedule cancelled classes can be a huge pain because there’s no flexibility on the course schedule.”

The campus was awash in stories about wading through the frigid, rushing water that overtook the campus late Monday afternoon. Arts student Hilary Angrove sloshed through knee-high water when she left the Bronfman Building to try to get home.

Then there were the salvage efforts. For example, students were asked to help move equipment and computers to higher levels when it became apparent the flood wasn’t going to end quickly.

McGill’s archives had about 300 wet boxes, and a disaster response plan was quickly implemented. Documents are dried and then frozen to prevent mould, but Theresa Rowat, director and university archivist, said nothing rare was involved and everything was expected to recover.

Amar Sabih, associate director of mechanical engineering, oversaw perhaps the most ambitious and innovative rescue plan on campus — the building of a makeshift dam near the McConnell Engineering Building to try to divert water from important lower level labs and research information. He and a group of students worked for three hours in the biting cold to construct a dam out of bags filled with snow, wood, trash cans and anything else they could find lying around.

“These were really smart, brave students who didn’t leave the ship to sink,” Sabih said. “They prevented water from pouring into a basement with $1 million worth of equipment in just one lab. It might have been a disaster if not for that dam.”

The flood also came as McGill was scrambling to try to cut $19 million from its budget in the next few months, in response to $124 million in cuts made by the Quebec government in December. These cuts have been a painful exercise for all universities, coming unexpectedly and so late in the fiscal year. In fact, McGill principal Heather Munroe-Blum was to meet with all the heads of the university’s unions on Tuesday morning to discuss the dire financial situation, but the meeting was postponed because of the flood.

“It was really a historic meeting to be summoned by the principal like that,” said Lilian Radovac, president of McGill’s teaching union.

Surveying the wet, crippled campus, Di Grappa summed up the situation: “This wasn’t a good start to the new year.”



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