CLEVELAND - The bitter cold is causing major damage to the region's water mains. In the last three days alone, there have been more than 30 breaks throughout northeast Ohio, prompting water to gush from below and pavement to buckle.
"The longer it stays below 10 degrees, we end up getting more pressure [inside the mains]," said Kim Thompson of the Cleveland Water Department.
Police shut down East Ninth Street near St. Clair Thursday after a six-inch water line that runs into the 16-story IMG building burst. Earlier that day, a water main broke on Center Road in Brunswick. Traffic was re-routed while crews worked to contain and repair the leak.
"Our first thought was that we have a break. Nobody drink the water," said Shaker Heights Resident Diane Clements who first noticed a brown discoloration to her water Thursday night. Clements lives on Almar Drive where another water main broke Friday morning.
Clements and her neighbors were without water for about four hours Friday while crews repaired the break.
"We are working on the infrastructure as much as possible," said Thompson who added that the Department's engineers are constantly evaluating mains to be proactive and avoid problems. They're also cleaning and replacing them.
The department has 23 crews working 16-hour days throughout the region monitoring and repairing problematic pipes, many of which break during cold weather. But temperature isn't the only factor as to why they burst.
"Sometimes it's about where it's at and what happened and ground shifting and freeze rates," said Thompson.
Thompson added that new pipes can break just as easily as old ones.
The department urges drivers and pedestrians to pay attention to safety zones where water main breaks occur, especially in the cold weather when water easily freezes.