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Severe cold brings damage to water pipes

More breaks possible as temperatures continue to climb this week.Springfield has fared better than Dayton, Columbus so far.


As temperatures plunged across the Midwest, city crews in Columbus and Dayton have struggled not only with frigid temperatures, but also with ruptured water lines that have flooded streets and damaged buildings.

Local officials said while they have responded to some breaks, they have been lucky compared to other area cities, and the breaks have been occurring at about the normal pace for this time of year. Still, Springfield city crews have responded to a higher rate of calls for residents asking to shut off water at the curb as pipes broke at area homes, said Chris Moore, city service director.

The Red Roof Inn, 155 E. Leffel Lane, was forced to close Wednesday due to a damaged sprinkler system, said Assistant Chief Brian Miller, of the Springfield Fire Rescue Division. The air traffic control tower at the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport also closed due to a damaged sprinkler system. Staff at the Red Roof Inn could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

Firefighters have seen an uptick in calls at commercial properties since temperatures plunged earlier this week, Miller said.

In Urbana, Chief Mark Keller said firefighters responded to reports of ruptured sprinkler systems at Sarica Manufacturing, the Champaign Family YMCA and Rittal Corp. due to the frigid temperatures.

More breaks are likely in the next few days as temperatures rise and the lines begin to thaw and expand, Miller said.

City work crews in Springfield have also had to deal with damaged water lines, but those breaks are common this time of year, officials said.

Springfield city crews responded to two minor water main breaks by Wednesday morning as the temperature began to rise, but with some lines as much as 100 years old in the city that is not necessarily unusual, Moore said.

“So far that’s not terribly different from any other winter day,” Moore said.

The city did respond to between 12 and 15 calls on Tuesday in which lines broke at residential properties and residents asked the city to shut off water until their lines could be repaired.

In Columbus, a 100-year-old pipe burst downtown on Monday afternoon, sending thousands of gallons of water into the city’s streets. In Dayton, two buildings on UD’s campus were damaged when frozen water ruptured pipes.

Moore said the weather can contribute to breaking lines but numerous other factors, including age and the installation of the pipes, can also contribute to breaks.

“They happen all winter long,” Moore said. “Occasionally we get one in the summer for really no good reason.”

Urbana also faced few issues with broken water mains, said Robert Munch, water superintendent for Urbana. Typically, lines can suffer damage as the ground thaws and shifts, but Urbana crews were not seeing an unusual number of breaks, Munch said.


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