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DPW: Winter weather contributing to increase water main breaks in Baltimore area

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Posted at 5:07 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 17:07:35-05

BALTIMORE — DPW is experiencing an increase in the number of water main breaks throughout out Baltimore City and County, with nearly three dozen main breaks occurring over the last few days.

According to DPW, although water main breaks happen throughout the year, the winter months are especially hard on water main infrastructure, especially during cycles of freezing and thawing caused by fluctuating winter temperatures.

These freeze-thaw conditions can cause the ground to shift and put stress on the pipes. In addition, a history of previous breaks, pipe corrosion, soil conditions, and age contributes to water main breaks.

“One of the serious issues for the area is the freeze-thaw weather cycle, where we often have extremely cold temperatures followed by much warmer conditions. This puts a strain on the water pipes,” Acting Director Matthew Garbark said. “This temperature fluctuation can cause old pipes to break and rupture eventually leading to water main breaks. Sometimes, it is only when the temperatures rise that a main break is recognized as the water melts and starts flowing again.”

When a water main breaks, DPW’s key priority is to restore water service to the homes and businesses experiencing water outages. However, most water mains can be repaired without customers losing water service.

DPW says they are ready to repair mains and restore water service and asks for the public’s patience. Crews have received notice and are on standby, and contractors are on-call to assist with repairs.

Water Main Repair Process:

  • Baltimore City residents should report water main breaks and other water emergencies to 311 (phone, mobile app, online). Baltimore County customers should call (410) 396- 5352.
  • A DPW inspector will be dispatched to investigate the break.
  • The water main valve will be located and turned off to cut off the flow of water.
  • Utility lines are identified and marked.
  • Broken pipe section is located, dug up and repaired or replaced.
  • Excavation site is filled in and roads are repaved.