Think of the water crews
January 16, 2013

A maintenance crew from Omaha's Metropolitan Utilities District had to fix a break in a 12" water main in the middle of the night this past weekend. Temperatures at the time were in the single digits, so the water that escaped the main created an ice slick on the street. So while a water-main break can create an inconvenience for the customers who are affected, it's often an even worse situation for the utility crews who have to endure harsh conditions to fix them.

Cold weather and the region's drought are a bad combination for water mains throughout Iowa and Nebraska. Cold weather creates problems since the pipes, fittings, water, and surrounding soil all expand and contract differently along with temperature changes, and this impact is even more pronounced when the mains consist of old pipe that has weakened over time. The drought just makes things even worse, since it has caused the ground to shift and crack in lots of places -- an impact noticeable with the many foundation cracks and other damage experienced throughout the area this past year. All of this adds up to a challenging year for the crews who do the work to get essential water services back into operation -- and a tip of the hard hat is due.

January 2013
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