Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Winter can affect water lines

January 9, 2002

Even though Baldwin City's Arctic cold spell seems to have ended for the time, temperatures are sure to drop back down below the freezing point before winter's end.

When that happens, it is possible Baldwin could see a couple of water line breaks, Assistant Utility Director Bill Winegar said.

"We haven't had any problems yet. It hasn't been cold enough, long enough," Winegar said. "But we'll probably have a few."

He said water line breaks happen when the temperature is low enough to freeze the water.

"When water freezes, it expands and will break a line," he said.

"Most water line breaks occur at the beginning and end of the season when the ground shifts," Winegar said. "That's what typically causes breaks."

Utility Director Terry McKinney said shifting has a lot to do with the amount moisture in the ground.

"If there's moisture in the ground, the frost line doesn't go as deep," he said.

The city could see some problems this winter, he said, because of the lack of rain last fall.

"We didn't have a lot of rain this fall, so there's not a lot of moisture in the ground," McKinney said. "The ground is probably freezing deeper than what it normally would."

He said the lack of moisture could be the reason other towns and cities, like Kansas City, have already experienced some water line breaks this year.

When a water line breaks, which Winegar said will probably happen once or twice this winter, crews can usually repair the line in three to four hours after isolating the break.

But he said breaks shouldn't be too big of a problem.

"We maintain 42 inches of cover on all the big mains, which keeps them protected from freezing," he said.

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