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Water Main Breaks Putting the Pressure on City's Infrastructure

77 water main breaks disrupted water service in 2011 compared to 50 so far this year in Cuyahoga Falls. Problem is, there's no easy fix.

The city is no stranger to water main breaks. 

On Monday, Cuyahoga Falls City Council approved the first of two measures to compensate the Karvo Paving Company for re-asphalting a section of Graham Road that had cracked and buckled last month.

The cause? A pair of 50-year-old water mains ruptured on Sept. 7, crippling Graham from Prange Drive to the Cardinal Retirement Village.

The cost? $100,000 to be paid for by the city’s miscellaneous waterline repair fund. The tab will deplete two-thirds of the fund, leaving $50,000 through December for major repairs, said John Christopher, superintendent of the city’s water utility.

A Graham water main also failed in August of 2010, buckling the asphalt from Lillis Drive to State Road. That repair cost $80,000.

From January to September of this year, the city fixed 47 water main breaks, compared to 61 in the same period last year. There were 16 additional breaks in 2011 from October to December and three so far this month, according to Valerie Wax Carr, the city’s service director.

As of now, there’s no easy solution to the ongoing problem, which brings road closures, detours and boil alerts.

The city’s strategy is to fix the “moderately old to new” waterline system on a case-by-case basis, as bigger projects would prove too costly, said Christopher.

For instance, fixing the waterlines throughout Graham Road would cost over $2 million, said Carr during Monday’s city council meeting.

However, Ward 2 Councilwoman Mary Ellen Pyke raised some concern over the volume of repairs, saying a water main at Chestnut Boulevard needed to be fixed 16 times last winter, and she feared this winter would bring more breaks.

“Chestnut’s holding,” replied Carr. “We’re hoping that we got the bad parts and we’re hoping that it holds. We were hopeful with Graham too, and obviously, it didn’t (hold).”

Despite the major repairs and numerous breaks, the case-by-case strategy is working; the city, as of yet, hasn’t incurred any significant cost overruns. 

Terry October 19, 2012 at 12:36 PM
I'm no expert but I would question the quality of repair parts if these are ongoing problems in the same area. Cuyahoga Falls, along with other cities, is in a budget crunch. I hope they're not gambling that cheaper, low quality parts will hold up. I've been told by some of the hourly employees that water department funds are being diverted to other departments to cover replacement of their equipment.
Sumco Res October 19, 2012 at 04:20 PM
It is not the repaired sections that are breaking down. The breaks are occuring further down the old line. Better pipe (ductile iron) is being used for repairs than what was used originally (cast iron). Each utility department in the City has its own budget for the year. Funds are not being diverted out of the Water/Sewer department.

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