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Water main break creates 30-foot geyser destroying a gas station

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Video from KJRH

Shifting temperatures causing water line breaks aren’t just a headache for your local public works department; they can be very dangerous. On January 12, 2015, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a water main break shot water more than 30 feet in the air, destroying the canopy and pumps of a gas station in just minutes. While the aftermath looked like a tornado blew through town, the reality is water caused this destruction. Check out the security camera footage from the gas station below.

Video from KJRH

When lines break, the problem may not be contained to a small area. It can affect many people. A major water line break could stop water for the neighborhood while crews repair the lines – or in the case of Tulsa, close businesses for extended periods of time, causing loss in revenue or destroying property. In extremely cold temperatures, leaking water could freeze, creating ice patches and danger for drivers and those walking on the sidewalk. Water is very powerful and a pressured water line break could also be destructive.

Many factors contribute to water and sewer line failures, including age, extreme temperature, quick changes (from hot to cold) and other environmental elements, such as ground shifting and roots. The winter months continue to be a danger to water and sewer lines for breaks and leaks – especially when the temperatures rapidly change from warm to extreme cold as we’ve seen in many parts of the world. Private lines are just as susceptible to problems as public infrastructure because they face the same age and climate concerns as public pipes; however, when private lines break or leak, the repair is on the homeowner, which could be very costly when lines need to be repaired under sidewalks and streets.

As the snow continues to fall with yo-yo style temperatures, remind your homeowners to be mindful of their water and sewer pipes and protect the lines using a few simple tricks:

  • Run a slow stream of water during the coldest days to prevent frozen pipes.
  • Ensure all pipes on exterior walls or outside are well insulated.
  • Watch your ground for wet spots or a foul smell, which would indicate a leak or break.

Additionally, if they see a water line break, they should report it to the public works department of the town and should not attempt to drive through the water. It only takes a few inches of fast-moving water to move a car and as you saw in the video, powerful water can crush metal.

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