Weather to blame for Virginia Beach water main breaks

Posted at 8:13 PM, Nov 25, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-25 20:13:16-05

Virginia Beach, Va. (WTKR) - Virginia Beach Public Utilities Crews have stayed busy responding to multiple water main breaks in the resort city in recent days all thanks to the changing weather.

"The crews do a marvelous job. They are out there in the pitch dark repairing these, excavating safely, making sure the water is safe to drink," explained Water Operations Manager James Cherry.

Since Saturday, crews have repaired 10 water main breaks. The latest happened Monday morning in the Pembroke area on Jericho Road.

That forced two nearby schools to use bottled water until the repair could be fixed.

Cherry says the problem has to do with the dramatic changes in temperatures, which puts stress on the pipes.

"When the temperature changes – whether the temperature is falling or rising rapidly- it does cause a lot of thermal stress. Whether it’s in the soil, in our iron pipes and even in the water," Cherry explained. "These are rigid pipes. They can withhold a lot of stress but if there’s any corrosion, any imperfection, sometimes those pipes do break."

The problem with water mains breaking is one his crews try to stay ahead of, but can be very dependent on the weather.

"It is a seasonal event. We shift our activities from doing more preventive maintenance to being prepared to react to these water main breaks," Cherry stated.

The water main breaks tend to happen more often in older, established neighborhoods where the pipes tend to be older.  Cherry says pipes in Virginia Beach date from 1915 all the way to the present.