Question and Answer
What is a water main?
Water mains are underground pipes that carry water from the storage tanks to your street.
What happens if a hole or crack develops in the pipe?
The water will usually find its way to the surface. Because the water main is under pressure, water will continue to flow until the break is controlled.
What causes water main breaks?
Water main breaks usually result from external corrosion of the pipe. Soil can contribute by being conductive and corrodes the metallic pipe from the outside in. Extreme weather changes can cause the ground to swell and contract, placing excessive pressure on the water mains, causing any weakened pipe to break. In the July 2013 case a valve was the source of the leak.
The other source of water line leaks has been fire hydrants that have been hit by vehicles or malfunction. Fire hydrants generally have “watch valves”. These are valves that automatically shut off water. They are now part of hydrant installation but were not included with earlier hydrants in the village.
Another source of a water main leak is a planned repair that water cannot completely be turned off or production is interrupted.
Does cold weather cause more water main breaks?
Cold weather is one of the extreme weather conditions that can cause water main breaks. Water main breaks are more likely to occur when frost penetrates deep into the ground, to a level of five to six feet, usually from late January until early April. While cold temperatures may send the frost deeper, the level of snow cover is also important. Snow will act as a "blanket" insulating the ground. In years when there is plenty of snow, the frost does not go as deep.
However, just as many water main breaks can occur during other extreme weather conditions, such as a hot, dry summer when the ground is very dry, or a very wet summer. We experienced that in July 2013. In the winter months, though, the impact of water main breaks is higher, since the water has more difficulty draining because of frozen catch basins, and because street flooding and then freezing can affect traffic.
How many miles of water mains are there?
Ashville has 16.3 miles of water mains. About 50 percent of the mains are cast and ductile iron. The estimated service life of the cast and ductile iron mains, depending on the year of installation, is between 75 - 100 years or more.
How many water main breaks occur annually?
The bar graph below represents water interuptions. In some cities you will find data indicating one or two leak per day with crews established for just that purpose.
How many crews work on repairing water main breaks?
There is not a specialized crew in Ashville. Some municipalities have that capability. The utility staff with the assistance of the service staff will work together to repair the leak. The Police Department may provide traffic control assistance. Depending on the leak there may be contracted services purchased. In July 2013 multiple contractors were used. One worked on the line and valve replacement. The other entity provided a specialized service called a “Line-stop”.
How do you repair water main breaks?
Once we receive a notice about a water main break, we:
- Dispatch a utility staff member to the location.
- Control the leak to reduce the risk to public safety, and private and public property. We do this by finding and closing valves.
- Contact other utilities to make sure that we can dig without damaging other services or endangering staff or the public.
- Pinpoint the location of the leak.
- Dig down to the water main and confirm the cause of the leak.
- Repair the water main. Depending on the type of break, we may apply a repair clamp or replace a length of pipe.
- Open valves to turn the water main back on and flush the water main.
- Backfill to temporarily restore the excavated area.
- Permanently restore the sod or pavement in the excavated area
How long does it take to repair a water main?
If there are no complications, we can usually repair a water main within 24 hours. If the break is not creating problems, we may leave the water main on while repair crews attend to more critical breaks.
How much do we spend to repair water main breaks annually?
In water main repair may cost $3,500 to $20,000. The range of breaks per year since 2003 is 0 to 4. Thus the cost is impacted by the number and severity of the leak.
What are you doing to reduce the number of water main breaks?
From 2003 up to and including 2013, we have spent $450,000 to replace water mains. We will also research replacing corroded water mains with PVC pipe. There is something called cathodic protection program. Cathodic protection stops the corrosion of cast iron water mains by redirecting corrosion forces from the iron water main to a sacrificial zinc bar called an anode.
Water main break on your street
Who should I call to report a water main break on my street?
Will you let me know if you need to turn off the water to repair a water main on my street?
Yes but not right away. There usually isn’t time to notify residents. The water can flood streets and private property causing damage and safety hazards, and must be controlled as quickly as possible. Once that control takes place an alert will be place on our website www.ashvilleohio.gov, a fax and email is sent to newspaper, radio and TV stations. We are investigating a group email system. We have used the Teays Valley call system. We attempted to use something called Nixle. Ten people in the village signed up for this email and text message alert system.
Will I notice anything different about my water after you repair a water main break?
Water is sometimes discolored after water main breaks, but this should not last long. Do not use discolored water for any purposes that require clean water, such as preparing food and beverages, medical and dental procedures, or laundry.
- Turn on a cold water tap and let the water run for a few minutes. Do not choose a tap that has a water filter connected to it, or the sediment may clog your filter. Do not use a hot water tap because it could draw sediment into your hot water tank.
- Catch some water in a light-colored cup or container to see if it is clear. You can use your water if it is clear.
- If the water doesn't clear in 5 minutes, wait 30 minutes and try again.
What if I need water when you are repairing a water main break on my street and the water is off?
It is better to have a disaster preparation plan in your home or business. As part of that preparation it would be good to take water into consideration. Bottled water would be recommended for drinking. For nondrinking water, place a rain barrels in your down spout. A rain barrel will conserve water. For example, chlorinated water is not needed for watering flowers.
During a water outage it could be used to flush your commodes.
What if I need a continuous supply of water to continue to operate my business?
As a temporary solution, we may be able to supply and install a temporary hose line:
- if a fire hydrant is available,
- if a hose line is available, and
- if the hose line does not unreasonably interfere with traffic.
You can consider a permanent solution by installing a second service line:
- to a different water main (select figure 1 to see a larger version)
- to the same water main with a valve on the water main between the services.
(select figure 2 to see a larger version)
Figure 1 Figure 2
Can a water main break cause damage to my property before you shut the water off to control the leak?
On occasion, a property can be flooded due to a water main break. We do everything we can to prevent this, but sometimes there are circumstances beyond our control that can result in property flooding, such as:
- homes that are very close to a major street with a large water main, or
- water that can't drain in winter.
We understand that this can be very disruptive and frustrating to property owners, and we regret the damage that can occur.
How can I protect myself against damage caused to my property if it is flooded as a result of a water main break?
Consult your insurance provider to be sure you are protected by your property insurance policy. Insurance for damages caused by water main breaks is included in most residential and commercial property insurance policies.
What should I do if my property is flooded as a result of a water main break?
Ensure your home is safe. Contact the village and your insurance carrier.
Can I file a claim with the Village of Ashville for damages to my home from a water main break?
Yes, you can always file a claim. But you should be aware that the Village is not liable for loss or damage as a result of a break or malfunction of a water main unless it is established that the break, malfunction or failure was the result of the negligence of the Village of Ashville or its employee. Similar legislation exists for almost all water utilities in North America.
Below is a presentation to Village Council concerning the watermain leak discovered on July 18, 2013.