KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The city’s pipelines are breaking faster than repairs are being made. The calls keep rolling in. So, what’s causing the increase in the number of water main breaks this summer?
Drought. 63 day of hot, dry drought.
According to the Kansas City Water Services Department, drought has caused soil to shift.
“Homeowners notice it in foundation cracks, maybe closet doors and front doors aren’t closing properly. That’s causing round breaks which means the pipes snap in half,” explained Kip Peterson, Director of Communications.
Kansas City averages about ten water main breaks a day this summer.
EXCLUSIVE: Complete list of main repair work orders in July 2012 - http://tinyurl.com/c6wys2w
“Omaha and St. Louis are having similar issues. St. Louis is averaging about 15-20 breaks a day,” Peterson added.
The Water Services Department reports water main breaks up 14 percent from 2011.
Peterson said the city and its contractors are working around the clock to keep up with the growing demand for repairs. However, the areas with the most imminent need come first.
On the other side of that coin lives Dennis Frierson.
His house stands at the corner of 47th and Harvard in Kansas City. A leak sprung from the pipes under that corner more than two months ago, Frierson explained.
“We’re getting mosquitoes and all sorts of different larva in this water,” he added.
The leak has created a pool of standing water in his front yard.
Frierson told 41 Action News he has called the KC Water Services Department, 3-1-1 and even Mayor Sly James’ office. Still, water trickles into his grass.
"It's just really frustrating with our water bill going up 17 percent,” Frierson said. “The amount of extra water you have to have, and they're not going about fixing any of these problems.”
He worries the wasted water will drive prices even higher. 41 Action News asked the Water Services Department this question specifically.
“There’s not a direct correlation between the customer’s bill next year and the record number of breaks and subsequent repairs from this year,” Peterson wrote.
He said Kansas City is implementing a five-year comprehensive maintenance plan that would equate future prices with maintenance needs.
Currently rates for Kansas City Water Service customers are set to encourage conservation.
“For instance, the charge on the first 600 cubic feet of water is $3.67/100 cubic feet. If a customer uses more than 600 cubic feet of water, then the amount of water used about 600 cubic feet is charged at a rate of $4.08/100 cubic feet,” Peterson wrote through e-mail.
The average customer uses about 700 cubic feet of water. In some areas, that average has risen as customers attempted to water their lawns during this summer’s drought. Again, the more you use the higher price you pay.
According to Peterson, Kansas City is in the midst of installing a valve replacement program that allows pieces of pipelines to be shut down faster when a water main breaks. That way, crews can mend the pipelines faster.
He reminds the public to be patient. The pipes that replace the broken lines are meant to last for 100 years.
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