Cold Snap Damages Roads and Water Mains All Over Des Moines

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- A brutal cold snap damaged three water mains on Thursday and will likely cause potholes in the coming days.

Des Moines Water Works Public Affairs Manager Laura Sarcone said crews identified breaks at these three locations:

  • 2133 E. 29 St. & John Patterson
  • 2706 SW 7 St. & Loomis
  • E. Hubbell Ave., 100’ west of E. 42 St.

"There's a number of factors that go into why a water main breaks. It could be the cold snap or it could be just corrosion around the water main, the soil type a lot of different factors and it's all just perfect storm when it happens," Sarcone said

Crews spent most of the afternoon repairing the damage as each fix can take anywhere from four to six hours.

“So we average about 300 main breaks per year so far for 2020 we have 35 main breaks so I don’t see a surge happening,” Sarcone said.

The switch from bitter cold temperatures to slightly warmer temperatures also does a number on our streets causing potholes to pop up everywhere.

“When it warm back up to more normal winter temperatures the ground starts to shrink because that ice cube effect of a melting ground underneath a roadway, you get the shrink and swell motion underneath the pavement will induce breakages in places where there are weak points and that’s where you’ll see potholes come out,” Des Moines Public Works Director Jonathan Gano said.

Gano said the last time Des Moines Public Works saw a cold snap they had a huge spike in pothole reports and they’re expecting that to happen again this week into next.

"It's been about 50 calls per week for the last several days and we are expecting about 350 to 300 pothole reports in the coming week and then a similar downtrend until we get to the big warm-up in March when the ground starts melting for real as we get closer to spring,” Gano said.

Water main breaks can be reported by calling 515-283-8772.

Potholes can be reported through the My DSM mobile app or by calling 515-283-4950.

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