Racine water main breaks keep utility crews busy

RACINE (WITI) -- The persistent winter cold is keeping city workers on their toes in Racine as they repair several water main breaks. The Racine Water Utility crew's chief engineer says they're up to 15 in one week.

"We've been getting done around midnight, two o'clock," said Mark Carr.

Carr says a typical number of water main breaks in one week is around three or four.

"I had eight come in in two hours, so that was on Tuesday morning, and we just played catch-up all week. So we're pretty much caught up now. They'll come in one here and one there," Carr said.

The bitter cold is not only causing the water lines to rupture, it's costing Racine between $3,000 and $5,000 to repair each break.

"All the traffic and everything drives the frost down and the mains are cast iron so it's like a pencil -- they just kind of snap and you get a circumference break around them," explained Carr.

Carr suspects the frost is nearly four feet deep at this point, and will take a while to finally thaw out.

"Probably be about April when the frost starts to come out. There will be spots that don't get sun that will still see a foot of frost, or so, in May," said Carr.

Carr predicts his crew will repair about 140 water main breaks this season.