This cold weather is taking a toll on the city of Des Moines’ water mains. So far there have been 200 main breaks in the first six weeks of this year.
This winter, Ted Corrigan says old, corroded pipes are meeting their match.
“The frost pressure just caused the pipe to snap like a pencil,” said Corrigan, the Director of Water Distribution and Grounds for Des Moines Water Works.
Each time crews have to dig down to make repairs, Des Moines Water Works has to dig into its budget.
“We budget about $1.5 million for water main breaks,” said Corrigan.
Most of that money is already spent and there’s still ten months to go.
Each of the 200 main breaks cost $5,000-$7,000 a piece, and Des Moines Water Works has less than $500,000 to work with.
A main break can’t and won’t be ignored.
A break Friday on the corner of 9th and Cherry Street near West End Salvage was fixed before lunch time.
“I came into work at 9 and by 10:30, the water was back on,” said Katie Nordquist, an employee.
Unfortunately, the money it takes to get to all of them may come out of your pocket in 2015.
“If we go significantly over budget, that will be considered in our rate setting for next year,” said Corrigan.
The other option is to dig into the capital improvements budget.
This year, Des Moines Water Works budgeted $2.2 million to replace corroded pipes that are the most susceptible to breaking.
The replacement work will take place all over the city, with the bulk happening along Meredith Drive, East Douglas, and Vine Street downtown.
Choosing not to repair pipes that have been around as long as 100 years may simply be delaying the problem.
“It’s too early to tell. We’re so early in the year and there are so many other factors besides maintenance and repair,” said Corrigan.
Des Moines Water Works now uses PVC or coated iron pipes that can better withstand corrosion.
Officials will begin working on the 2015 budget by June and hope to have it approved by October.