Rockford sees increase in emergency water main repairs

The Rockford Water Division says they have seen the amount of emergency water main repairs double so far this year compared to all of last year.

This influx of repairs has crews working around the clock working to restore broken or cracked pipes around the city.

"The infrastructure is only getting older, breaks are going to continue," Water Superintendent Kyle Saunders said.

In 2017, crews worked on 61 emergency water main repairs. Just halfway through 2018, that number has already jumped to 77.

"We do have some areas in town that have corrosive soils that we’re seeing break consistent breaks in those areas," Public Works Director Mark Stockman said.

Stockman says the city’s infrastructure has water mains that are over 100 years old, which is one of the reasons why the city is seeing these on-going issues grow.

"We still have a lot more older aging water main than we do new water main in the city," Stockman said. 

Some of the oldest pipes are made of cast iron and are able to hold up to the task, however, both new and old pipes are bursting around the city and they are working to track these trends to be able to tell when the next possible break may happen.

"Some of our main was put in right after World War II and we are seeing a lot more breaks in that ductile iron," Saunders said.

However, these repairs the water division have been working on are only a temporary fixes and may burst again before new infrastructure is able to be put in place.

"We will place a repair sleeve on most of them that generally takes care of them in the short-term," Stockman said.

The city says this only works as a Band-Aid for the long term vision of using capitol improvement dollars to replace the current systems.

"A concern of mine is to obviously continue to invest at a level so we can proactively address these before the catastrophically fail," Saunders said.

Until then, the city plans to continue its proactive and reactive repairs around the city in hopes of maintaining water to it’s citizens. Mark Stockman says in order to replace the entire water system, it would cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars.

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