NYC: Fewer Water Main Breaks Now Than in Years Past

Another water main break is posing a headache for New Yorkers, but the city says it's gotten better over the past few years

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Greenwich Village residents are dealing with another water main break. Experts say New Yorkers should expect more breaks before winter's over, the city says the number of breaks has been dropping over the last few years. Marc Santia has the story.

    As Greenwich Village residents deal with another water main break this winter, the city says the number of breaks has been dropping over the last few years. 

    The water main that broke on Greenwich and Clarkson streets in the West Village Tuesday was from 1870. Old infrastructure has been common among the recent water main breaks, including one at East 13th Street and Fifth Avenue earlier this month. 

    "It was very difficult," said Bruce Schreiber, who runs C.O. Bigelow, the oldest pharmacy in the country located in the neighborhood. His landlines were down for nearly a week after the Jan. 15 break. 

    Greenwich Village Cleans Up Water Main Break Damage

    [NY] Greenwich Village Cleans Up Water Main Break Damage
    One building super says the damage done by last week's water main break is worse than what Sandy did to his building. Roseanne Colletti reports.

    "We were all on cell phones here," he said.

    The aging pipes are more vulnerable to breaks, especially given the extreme weather this winter. 

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    [NY] Learn About Water Main Breaks
    Denise Richardson, managing director of General Contractors Association of New York, has information on water main breaks and what causes them.

    "When the soil is saturated with the water, the water particles tend to expand, causing the soil to expand, putting a lot of pressure on water mains," said David Koysman, a senior infrastructure engineer with Buro Happold.

    "It's impossible to say how many will break, but we could expect more to happen," he said, adding that the older water mains tend to corrode.

    The Department of Environmental Protection says the number of water main breaks has been dropping since 2007, when an aggressive program was implemented. That year, there were 579 breaks. In 2013, there were 452 breaks. 

    The DEC also says the industry average is 23 to 25 breaks per 100 miles annually; in New York City in 2012, the average was 6 breaks for every 100 miles of pipe -- and there are 7,000 miles stretching through all five boroughs.

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