CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It may be this way for a few days for water line crews across the state. The freeze and thaw are causing water line breaks.
A big break Wednesday morning on Washington St. in Charleston had crews out early. A pipe owned by West Virginia American Water burst around 4:30 a.m.
“It was a 12-inch water main that broke and very quickly covered the road, with ice, because it froze nearly immediately,” explained Laura Jordan with West Virginia American Water, the largest water company in the state.
The street looked more like an ice rink. Traffic was quickly diverted and crews got to work locating the leak. Jordan said once workers dug down they found out the pipe wasn’t even that old. It was installed in the 1980s. But that’s what happens, she said, when we have extreme weather changes.
“When the temperature changes, whether it’s extreme heat, extreme cold and a very quick change back and forth to one another,” Jordan said it can wreck havoc on their lines.
In fact, since the temperatures plummeted back on Monday into sub-zero territory, WVAWC crews have been working long hours to make repairs. But they knew what was coming.
“We did anticipate this and last week put a plan together, as to how we would address it, bring additional resources on board, if necessary,” stressed Jordan. “We have all hands on deck working around the clock to address as many of these water main breaks as possible.”
The one in Charleston is, so far, the biggest. Tuesday, in Huntington and Barboursville, crews were dealing with 8-inch breaks.
The phones at the company call center have been ringing off the hook. Some of those call are for actual water line breaks, others from folks whose pipes have frozen. In order to speed up the repair process, Jordan said make sure it’s a line break before you call WVAWC.
“If you go turn on your faucet and there’s no water it’s best to check around with your neighbors to find out if this is an isolated issue or a widespread issue.”
Jordan stressed that WVAWC is not responsible for pipes and lines on private property. However, they do want to be made aware of line breaks in the road because that is the company’s responsibility.
“It doesn’t even matter the size of the main. Often even a small service line or small water main can cause ice in the roadways,” something Jordan said they want to avoid at all costs in this chilly weather.
Temperatures are expected to hit the 50s by this weekend and the freeze, thaw, leak-effect will continue.
“We expect to stay very busy,” Jordan predicted.