Winter Temperatures and Aging Infrastructure Cause Water Mains to Break

Thursday, February 5, 2009 - 2:41am

Pipe Section Near Arbor Hills to be Replaced in Spring

Madison-A water main near Arbor Hills has been fast-tracked for replacement by early April, the Madison Water Utility announced today. In an area that has seen three main breaks so far this winter, the 50-year-old residential area pipes are not only vulnerable to winter's frozen ground, but this particular stretch of main is also difficult to repair because it lies below buried communication cables, according to Water Utility engineers.

Replacement of the block-long pipe section along the Beltline frontage road will occur probably in early April, after approval by the city's Board of Public Works, at a cost of approximately $80,000.

"Water utilities across the nation must cope with the problems of aging infrastructure," said MWU General Manager Tom Heikkinen, "and we are no exception. Mains and pipes that were installed in the rapid growth years after World War II are now 50 or 60 years old and nearing the end of their useful economic life. We have over 850 miles of main in our system, and we must continue to increase our water main replacement budget until we reach a sustainable rate of about 8 to 10 miles of replacement pipe per year. Some of our mains date back a hundred years."

Some older pipes were made of less durable materials than those used today. The pipe installed today by the Madison Water Utility is of a much higher quality and is expected to last well over a hundred years.

  • Gail Gawenda, Water Utility PIO, 608:266-9129

Water Utility