Jan 12, 2022

Cold weather and soil conditions putting pressure on city's water lines

Posted Jan 12, 2022 11:12 AM

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — The city of Hutchinson suffered three major water main breaks in just two days.

According to Richard Buller of Hutchinson Public Works, the breaks are being caused by two possible factors. One is a combination of the cold weather and sandy soil conditions. Buller says the extreme cold caused the soil to shift, breaking older water mains. 

The age of the water mains is also a problem. Most of the older lines are cast iron and are being corroded from the outside by the soil conditions. Buller says most of those lines were placed in the ground in the 1950s. Hutchinson is not alone in the water main problems. Similar breaks happened in Nickerson last Friday and one happened in Buhler Tuesday morning.

When a line breaks, it is usually replaced by plastic PVC pipe, which lasts longer, but that is of course done on a case-by-case basis unless a major street project allows the city to completely remove the old line. The breaks also cause damage to the street, which often forces the city to close that area off until repairs can be made.

Buller says the city had 78 major water main breaks in 2021.

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