Age is Not What Caused Century Old Court Avenue Water Main to Break, According to Officials

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A boil advisory was lifted Monday for the Court Avenue District after a water main break there over the weekend. It's rupture is forcing Des Moines Water Works to review it's entire city wide pipeline system, not just the pipes considered at risk.

Water Works CEO, Bill Stowe, says the chances of a main break across the the city at any given time is inevitable.

"We have 1,300 miles of pipe. We will have failures from time to time," he tells Channel 13.

Stowe estimates upwards of a million gallons of water flooded portions of Court Avenue. The rupture caught crews off guard. The main was not considered high risk based on it's breakage history, material or the soil around it.

"This  pipe was not a prime candidate to be replaced because it didn`t show any of those factors other than a 1900's vintage," Stowe says.

The pipe that broke was a 12 inch cast iron main that was 118 years old. Stowe says its age wasn't the reason it burst but blames it on high water usage on a dry and hot day.

The main has already been fixed however the road repairs have not.  Water Works will foot the bill for all repair costs. Every year it sets aside about seven - million dollars to replace water mains before they break. According to Stowe, this bill will likey cost six - figures.

This week's forecast looks hot and dry for the week, something Water Works will have to keep an eye on.

"This was a situation where we were not in front of replacing the pipe that failed. It's not as simple as just replacing old stuff with new stuff. We have things in between the old stuff and the fairly recent pipes that are more prone to failure than this is."

The break also created an issue for Mid American Energy's underground system. On Tuesday, crews will clear away sand deposits left behind by the water. They don't believe any major damage was done. Once crews finished their assessment, repairs to the road will begin.


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