Winter Weather Contributing to Water Main Breaks Department Stands Ready to Repair Breaks, Restore Water Service
Wednesday Feb 10th, 2021
Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) Acting Director Matthew W. Garbark advises that the Department 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.
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 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 stands 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.
“It is important to note that water main breaks are often resolved quickly and can often be repaired without incurring any service outages, but the degree and severity of the breaks are not always known until we arrive onsite, turn off the water, and begin an inspection of the main," said Acting Director Garbark.
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.
To keep the public informed, DPW has an Interactive Map that shows up-to-date information on water main repair activity. The interactive map is available on the DPW website: https://publicworks.baltimorecity.gov/interactive-maps.