Washington crews have handled more than a handful of water main breaks in recent weeks but nothing like the city of St. Louis.
On Monday alone, Fox 2 news reported Missouri American Water had 45 crews out repairing breaks. Water/Wastewater Superintendent Kevin Quaethem said Washington has had about seven breaks total in the last month.
Quaethem said water main breaks happen all the time, for a variety of reasons, but in Washington cold weather doesn’t seem to be the driving force. He said summer is actually peak breakage season for his crews.
In his 18 years with the city, Quaethem said summer heat usually means water main breaks.
Quaethem said he wasn’t sure why St. Louis has trouble in the winter while Washington has trouble in the summer. His best guess was a combination of soil and processing.
Washington’s soil is more clay based, he said, and different from St. Louis. He said the different makeup of the soil causes different reactions in different temperatures.
The other factor is how the bulk of St. Louis gets its water. While Washington uses wells, Missouri American Water pumps directly from the Missouri River.
“Most of them come out of the water and go into a processing plant,” he said. “It’s really cold, then it warms up and then it goes back out and gets cold again. You got an issue when warmer water hits the colder water.”
Quaethem said having breaks in the summer could be worse because crews aren’t outside in the cold weather dealing with cold water.
None of the recent breaks in town have been major, he said. The majority have been busted rings that are fairly easy to repair.
Quaethem said it usually takes crews longer to find the break than to make the actual repair.