75 water main breaks in Lafayette this winter

FILE: Water main bust
FILE: Water main bust


LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – This winter was a tough one for Lafayette Water Works with more than 70 water main breaks throughout the season.

“I’ve been doing this for 27 years and I have never seen a winter like this,” Lafayette Water Works Superintendent Kerry Smith said.

Smith said between October and March the city had 75 water main breaks, 19 more than the previous year.

“In that same time frame, we had 42 frozen service lines and we had 214 frozen water meters,” Smith said. “Most of that came in the month of February.”

Smith said many of the older pipes, dating back to the late 1800s, can handle the cold. The post World War II pipes, on the other hand, don’t fare as well in extreme temperatures.

“Pipes from the ’40s and ’50s, but this year it didn’t matter. This winter didn’t discriminate. It was hard on everything,” Smith said.

Including employees. Smith said, during the second pay period in February there were 415 hours of overtime between 12 workers. However, Smith said repairs are the most costly expense of the winter, and their work isn’t finished yet.

“We have over 50 street repairs of our own to make just from dig-ups that we did,” Smith said. “That’s probably the biggest expense, the final repair and restoration.”

Water main repairs are on the schedule for this year along Earl Avenue and Sagamore Parkway to replace the existing infrastructure with new material.

“It’s concrete-coated ductile iron pipes that’s actually extruded instead of cast, so it’s a lot tougher and a lot stronger.”

Smith said he doesn’t have an exact number for winter costs yet, but said it was expensive.

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