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 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.”



Comment by Howard on January 29, 2013 at 4:18pm

Another Major Water Main Break in Montreal (Jan 29)

The city’s big-water-main problems escalated Tuesday morning.

Water flooding downhill along the eastern flank of the downtown McGill University campus isn’t coming from the broken 48-inch-diameter main that channelled torrents of water into the downtown core Monday afternoon — but has instead sprung from a second significant leak, a city official said.

This breached pipe is bigger — although the extent of the fracture appears smaller.

The fresh leak appears to be gushing from a 54-inch-diameter main also linked with the McTavish Reservoir, central-city spokesperson Jacques-Alain Lavallée added.

At 9 a.m., water was still running on campus, ankle-deep.

A makeshift dam — cobbled together using snow, recycling bins and several sheets of plywood — was diverting some of the flow from near the north entrance of the MacConnell Engineering Building to municipal storm sewers near the corner of University and Milton Sts.

The second leak, Lavallée said, appears to originate under or near University St., south of Pine Ave. W.

“What my colleagues have told me is that some dams were installed on University, stone dams, in order to make sure the (second) leak was contained between Sherbrooke (St. W.) and Pine Ave.,” Lavallée responded when asked why ample surface water was still flowing on McGill’s campus.

Water from the second main was also streaming directly down University St.

The immense flow from the first broken pipe had swept into the city core late Monday afternoon; it was stemmed early Monday evening.

“We will start to excavate this morning” under University, Lavallée added, “probably finding out what caused all this.”

Volume from that second leak displayed considerably less ferocity than the torrent unleashed into the downtown core Monday afternoon, he specified:

“The quantity ... is not as significant as it was yesterday.”

“Until there’s a proper excavation,” Lavallée added, “I cannot confirm exactly what caused all this.”

Many of the pipes in the area date from 1924, he said.

The leaks have both sprung while $16.4 million in work was underway to repair McTavish Reservoir conduits. “No one lost water service” as a result of the problems, Lavallée said.

The McTavish Reservoir provides potable water for about 500,000 Montreal residents.

Asked to confirm that two of the four major McTavish conduits now appear to have been compromised, Lavallée responded: “I would say so. But the main source of what happened yesterday is the 48-inch” main.

Overnight, Lavallée said, “our top priority was to ensure that no one would get injured. That’s why our blue-collars have spread abrasives and salt all night long.”

Lavallée said he was not aware of any reports of injuries.

Meanwhile, Wilson Hall and the Birks Building on the downtown McGill University campus have been shut Tuesday as a result of Monday afternoon’s flooding, “and classes in those buildings are cancelled this morning,” the school said.

As well, the FACE School on University St. has also been shut for the day, “due to flooding in area,” the English Montreal School Board announced.

“Cleanup crews have worked all night,” McGill said in an update on its website.

“Classes are being relocated from the Wong Building, and physics labs are cancelled in Wong today.

“Finally, the James Administration Building is closed until noon as cleanup on the first and second floors continues.”

“Please avoid the Milton Gate,” at the corner of University St., the McGill statement advised.

“This area ... continues to be flooded. Please access the lower campus from the Roddick Gates or the MacTavish St. entrance.”

“The north entrance to the McConnell Engineering Building is closed, except for emergencies.”




Comment by Howard on January 29, 2013 at 3:18am

Large Water Main Break Causes Severe Flooding in Downtown Montreal (Jan 28)

Student swept away at McGill University

A break in a 48-inch water main has affected a large area of downtown Montreal between Sherbrooke Street and Réné-Levesque Boulevard, and between Peel Street and Union Avenue.

Officials are still trying to figure out what caused the break.

Much of the flooding happened close to McGill University's downtown campus.

A note sent to employees at McGill warned of "severe flooding" on the campus and inside several buildings.

"We are trying to assess damage as best we can, but it will be extensive," the note stated, warning employees to get to safety.



Comment by Howard on January 22, 2013 at 5:26am

North Carolina Sinkhole Collapses Side of Roadway (Jan 21)
A water main break on Tyvola Centre Drive Monday morning caused a giant sinkhole that swallowed a car, sidewalk and even a tree. It was the last thing Brian Yurkovic thought would happen when he went to take out the trash.

"I was coming down the road, and I hit a big bump," said Yukovic.

That bump turned out to be a sinkhole that caved the moment his car passed over it.

Eyewitness News learned it was caused by a water main break. It emptied the ground above it and not only took out the streetlight but also the sidewalk, a tree, the surrounding grass and half of the road.

Yurkovic was left with two flat tires. He said that's when he got out of his car to warn others.

"I turned around, started waving to slow her down, and right into the hole she went," he said.

The driver's red Hyundai got stuck half on the road and half in the hole. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities Department was called to fix it but couldn't until both cars were towed. It took the wrecker about an hour to load both cars and lift the Hyundai out of the hole. In the meantime, CMUD shut off the water to the entire area, including the nearby apartment complex.

"I just woke up this morning, went into the bathroom and saw there was no water," said resident Subrakash Bhowmik

It made some people so late for work, they had to call out.

"I think we'll have to take a vacation day today," said Aruba Paul.

None of the drivers were hurt. Residents were told it would take four to six hours to fix.

CMUD says water main breaks happen every day. Eyewitness News has reported about the city's aging water main structure for years. With more than 4,000 miles of pipe, the city says it'd be too costly to replace. Its policy is to fix them as they break.



Comment by Howard on January 13, 2013 at 7:13pm

Water Main Snaps in Shreveport, Louisiana (Jan 11)

A 10 to 12-inch water pipe broke in half causing a large sinkhole to form Friday night in Shreveport's Broadmoor neighborhood.

The sinkhole developed at the corner of Grover Place and India Drive.

Crews set up a barricade to keep vehicles from driving into the large hole until repairs can be made.



Comment by Howard on January 10, 2013 at 3:54am

Major Water Main Break in Council Bluffs, Iowa (Jan 9)

(video) Not far from Omaha, Nebraska, a major water-main break at the corner of Ninth Street and Avenue E not only took out a chunk of concrete that stretched across the street, but it's also forced Council Bluffs area residents to go into a boil alert for their water -- which has sent many people to area grocery stores and forced a handful of restaurants to close their doors Wednesday.

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