Freezing temperatures causing problems below the ground

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The frigid temperatures have brought more than just unexpected road problems.

They may also be contributing to problems below ground, including several water main breaks that occurred in Jonesboro Monday.

Special Projects Administrator at City, Water and Light, Kevan Inboden, said the cold temperatures are causing problems below the surface.

"Surprisingly, a lot of water main breaks, for any utility occurs in the winter months. Now, that's because as the temperatures really drop the ground can freeze, and even though the water mains are below the frost line, it can cause the soils to shift," Inboden said. "Which puts stresses on those water mains buried in the ground. So, the stresses that the ground can put on our pipes, that can be a problem. And then, in addition in the winter when water usage goes down pressure in our system go slightly up. So, you have two forces at play there. The ground forces that are putting additional stresses on the pipe and then you have the increased pressures in some cases can actually be putting more pressure from inside the pipe. So, those two factors working together can result in additional broken water mains in the winter months."

Inboden said they reported issues in three areas of Jonesboro.

"To my knowledge, yesterday we have three significant water breaks," Inboden said. "The crews that worked on those have gone home. They worked into the night and had a very long, cold night last night. I've not gotten a chance to talk to them and get a complete update. But to my knowledge we had three."

The breaks were on Phillips Drive, Alonzo and Kathleen Street, with the biggest issue being on Phillips Drive.

"The one on Phillips Drive, was an eight-inch water main. It caused quite a bit of damage to the soil and to the street around that area when it ruptured. All the breaks have been completely resolved," Inboden said. "We do have to go back and do some restoration work, some repair of parking lots and some street areas that were damaged. But as far as the water mains, they're all back in service and back in great working order."

Customers are aware of running your water to keep the lines from freezing.

Unfortunately, Inboden says there's not much the public can do to help prevent a water main from breaking.

"The factors that play into a water main, rupturing or breaking are really outside the customer's control," Inboden said. "It's really unusual for a water main to break. If you have all those conditions working together then it can occur."

Inboden also said he wanted to warn customers not to be alarmed if their water looked a little different after a water main has broken.

"Customers just need to keep in mind," Inboden said. "We have chlorine in the water and it offers some residual disinfection. So, in case there's a water main break out of the system that chlorine is there to help make that water safe quicker. In addition, we just ask that when we do have a water main break, customers may occasionally see that the water is slightly cloudy. A lot of times that's air bubbles. The customer can draw a glass of water and sit it down on the counter and those air bubbles would typically clear up from the bottom of the glass to the top. Sometimes in rare instances, a customer may see slightly discolored water after we've repaired a main. And that could be our operating valves in the area or the velocities that were in the pipes may have caused some of the deposits that were inside the pipe to come off. So, we just ask that customers after we have a main break like that be understanding and they probably just want to flush their system to let that discolored water or air in their system go on out. The water would be safe to drink. If not, we would notify the customer they would need to take additional measures."

Inboden said they would appreciate the publics' help if the suspect something like a water main has broken in their area.

"If a customer suspects a water main break," Inboden said. "They just need to call our main number and we'll get somebody on it very quickly. And this time of year, the quicker we can get on it and get it repaired the better off it is not only for our system, but for the surrounding property. When the temperatures are this cold, if there's very much water out there it's going to make a very slick area obviously as that water freezes. So, the quicker we can get on a water main break the better we can control the amount of water that comes out and is lost and we can further mitigate the potential nuisance to property owners, pedestrians and vehicle traffic."

You can contact the Jonesboro City, Water and Light office at (870)-935-5581.

For more information, log onto their website.

Copyright 2018 KAIT. All rights reserved.