Brutal winter causes record number of water main breaks

Marshalltown has had a record number of water main breaks this winter.

Steve Sincox, Marshalltown Water Works general manager and CEO, said 27 water mains have broken since early January.

“This is extremely out of the normal,” Sincox said. “The water main breaks are because of frost in the ground. The frost causes pressure in the ground and movement and that’s what breaks our water mains underground.”

Sincox said a typical number of water main breaks is about 15 in a year.

Marshalltown Water Works crews have fixed the water main breaks in a timely fashion, Sincox said.

“Our crews have been doing a dynamite job of doing all these repairs,” Sincox said.

Marshalltown Mayor Jim Lowrance thanked the water works employees for repairing the water main breaks at the city council meeting.

“Our thanks to the water works employees,” Lowrance said. “These folks have to get out in the worst of weather to try to keep everything running.”

In addition to water mains breaking, Sincox said he has also been notified of 20 frozen water surface lines underground on the northwest and northeast part of town.

“It’s typically a three-quarter inch pipe that brings water to their house,” Sincox said. “It’s frost deep enough that has frozen their line underground.”

Since water surfaces are owned by the property owner, the homeowners have to find a plumber or contractor to come and thaw the line.

“Until the homeowners can find a plumber or contractor that can come in and thaw that line out for them, they’ll probably be without water until spring,” Sincox said. “That’s when the frost moves up high enough to where the line will thaw out.”

If the homeowner notices ice cold water coming out of the faucet, Sincox said its close to freezing.

“You might to consider leaving a pencil lead-size stream running to keep it from freezing,” Sincox said. “As long as the water is moving it won’t freeze.”