What’s caused three straight, large water main breaks downtown
Many different factors can contribute to a water main break, including the age of pipes, weather, water temperature and the type of pipe material.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Downtown Nashville has seen its share of rushing water this week after three large water main breaks in as many days.
A water main break at the Tennessee State Capitol caused the nearby Cordell Hull Building to close Thursday.
The first main break affected water service to the Historic Metro Courthouse on Tuesday. The second took place near Nissan Stadium and shut down the road between Spring Street and Dickerson Pike.
“It’s not unusual for us to have breaks, breaks can happen for a multitude of reasons,” Metro Water Service strategic communications manager Sonia Allman said. “We have a lot of older infrastructure, but a lot of the infrastructure is still great and even a new pipe, depending on what is going on with it, can break.”
Of Nashville 3,000 miles of water pipes, MWS said 26% of them are over 70 years old, 37% is 40 to 70 years old, and 37% is less than 40 years old.
Many different factors can contribute to a water main break, including the age of pipes, weather, water temperature and the type of pipe material. It’s most likely, Allman said, that the sudden change from freezing temperatures to warm temperatures and the age of the pipes downtown contributed to them breaking.
Metro Water Services data shows in 2021 Nashville had 498 water main breaks. In 2022, it had 524. So far this year, there’s been 95 breaks. Allman said the city is on pace this year for similar numbers in years past.
“I like to use the example of a refrigerator, just because it’s at its expected lifespan, if it’s still working, you don’t replace it arbitrarily,” Allman said. “As soon as you put it in the ground, by the next day, it’s already aging again. So when you have 3,000 miles of pipe, it’s very difficult to replace all of it.”
Metro Water Services said it tries to replace about 30 miles of pipe each year. It also has a Water Infrastructure Rehabilitation program, which puts a charge on your water bill to repair and replace water infrastructure.
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