GR water main break may reveal underlying issues

Updated: Wednesday, February 13 2013, 11:58 AM EST
GR water main break may reveal underlying issues story image
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - As crews repair a water main that broke early this morning in Grand Rapids, we're uncovering the underlying issue.
"The problem that we have that all older cities across America have is aging infrastructure," said Joellen Thompson, water system manager for the city of Grand Rapids.

More than 1200 miles of water mains run under the city of Grand Rapids, many of the pipes more than 100 years old. The one that broke this morning at Grandville Avenue and Clyde Park was built in 1899.

"We work hard to prioritize our limited dollars we can put toward replacing aging water mains," said Thompson.

We're told on average the city's capital replacement plan covers just five miles of new pipe a year at the cost of about $6 million.

Breaks like the one we saw today happen about four to five times a week this time of year in GR and sometimes even "several a day, but they don't occur in the same spot. They can occur anywhere in our system," said Thompson.

That makes you wonder if repairs are just a bandage for a bigger problem.

"Well it fixes this particular spot in the water main, but the entire stretch of the water main is old, so we can't guarantee that it won't break again somewhere nearby," she said.

We're told the water system tries to coordinate projects with other city departments to leverage its funds but typically decides what gets replaced based on three things: age of the main, what it's made of, and the repair record.

No word on when the road will reopen. Crews have to not only replace the pipe but also patch up the road when they're done. We're told Grandville Avenue from Clyde Park to High Street should be closed through the night.
GR water main break may reveal underlying issues
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