WJTV News Channel 12 - UPDATE: Infrastructure Problems Cause Water Breaks

UPDATE: Infrastructure Problems Cause Water Breaks

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UPDATE: The Jackson Mayor's Office has told us that repairs have been made on the six water main breaks as of today. Boil water notices are normally issued out of precaution and will be lifted after two (2) days of clear sampling of the water.  

Jackson city workers are battling another water main break tonight.  Crews are working through the night at the corner of Bienville and Suncrest Drives in South Jackson.  We're told this is the eighth major break in the Capital City since Tuesday.

We found out about these water main breaks tonight.  Residents in areas across the city are under a precautionary boil water notice.

Those areas affected include Petit Bois, Avery Circle, Whitworth Street, Forest Park Drive and River Oaks Place.

These residents will remain under a precautionary boil water notice for at least two days.  That's because the city must have two consecutive days of clean water testing results.  At the minimum that means the precautionary boil water notice could be lifted on Friday.

We talked with the city's Public Works Director.  Dan Gaillet tells News Channel 12 these water main breaks are not only a result of old and corroded pipes but because of all the rain we had this week.  The ground is so saturated and it’s causing the pipes to shift.

“We’re working to fix others in the city and we’re dealing with the major ones first,” explains Gaillet.

If you are under this precautionary boil water notice city leaders urge you not to drink tap water or use ice from your freezer (if you don't have a filter).  You can cook or wash dishes, but you must boil the tap water for at least one minute before using it.  We’re told bathing is safe as long as the water is not swallowed.

Also, we want to let you know that the precautionary boil water notice has been lifted for North State Street and Gary Road Elementary.

In an email from the Mayor's Office, it  states that the cause of the recent increase in water main breaks are:

Water main breaks can happen for a variety of reasons. Although main breaks can happen at any time during the year, most are likely to occur during extreme weather conditions. It is most common to see system leaks and main breaks when the weather is frigid, when both air and water temperatures drop. Air temperature at or below freezing causes the ground above a pipe to freeze - increasing external stress on a pipe. Hot, dry weather can also take a toll; ground shifts and the increased volume and pressure can also stress water mains.

Besides changes in temperature, other factors that contribute to breaks include:

· pipe material - most breaks occur in iron water mains. Water mains installed before 1980, are for the most part, made of iron. Iron is not a very forgiving metal and has a tendency to crack when it expands or contracts due to temperature changes. Recent weather extreme experienced: extended dry, high temperature days for September (almost 20+ days) to wet, cooler temperatures for the past 6 days.

· soil erosion - a previous pipeline break, excavation or nearby construction activity often erodes soil around water mains, which can cause breaks.

· corrosion- older pipes are not lined and will corrode inside and outside.

· age -the break rate for pipes increases after 60 years (i.e., Fondren/ Belhaven area).

· human factors - contractors, utility workers or homeowners can unintentionally hit a pipe with a shovel, back-hoe or other heavy equipment or hydrants are opened/closed too quickly causing water hammering.

Additionally, Jackson is plagued by Yazoo Clay which bloats when wet and shrinks when dry. While water seeps through other types of soil, Yazoo Clay absorbs water swelling to 2-3 times its normal size. Yazoo clay extends in a 30-mile stretch across the middle of the state and Jackson sits directly in the middle of it. While Yazoo clay can contract and expand with ease, our water mains cannot.

Will this problem worsen?

This problem will not worsen, but it will persist due to Yazoo clay. When the weather stabilizes, we will see a decrease in the amount of breaks.

For more information on the boil water notices, click here.

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