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State

Deep freeze causes water main problems across state

City employee Joe Sammon hands bricks to Pat Newell as they work to fix a service branch off a water main break Monday in Moline.
City employee Joe Sammon hands bricks to Pat Newell as they work to fix a service branch off a water main break Monday in Moline.

MOLINE (AP) – This year’s relentless winter weather is proving difficult for water mains across Illinois.

The extreme cold has caused a record number of water main breaks in Moline this season, according to a report in The Moline Dispatch.

Since Nov. 1, Moline has had 61 breaks, while another 60 have occurred in nearby Rock Island. And in East Moline, city officials say there were as many water main breaks through the end of December as the community normally receives during an entire winter season. Moline’s previous record was the 51 breaks recorded in 1996. A typically winter has about 30 water main breaks.

The frequent breaks are also costly, forcing communities to pay for repairs and employee overtime to fix the breaks.

Experts say the fierce cold has pushed the frost line far below ground. Combined with near-freezing water, the typically metal pipes are under extra pressure.

Moline utilities general manager Greg Swanson compared the pipes to a pencil.

“If you hold it in your hand and apply pressure, it will bend a certain amount. Then it snaps,” he said. “That is what happens with these mains.”

In Peoria on Monday, a water main break cut service to about thousands of customers, including hospitals and schools.

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Information from: The Dispatch, http://www.qconline.com

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