8 water main breaks in 24 hours in Philadelphia

WYNNEFIELD (WPVI) -- Crews worked to repair a busted water main in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia - but it turns out, this was just one of many over the past two days.

Officials say it's that time of year.

The winter season is our typical break season so we see a higher volume of water main breaks this time of year pretty much December through March," said John DiGuilio, Philadelphia Water Department.

The Philadelphia Water Department had 212 main breaks last January. They say there's been eight over the past 24 hours alone, including this one.

The 20-inch transmission line running down Wynnefield Avenue near 57th ruptured on Monday night.

People downstream had low water pressure until the flow was shut off. Fortunately transmission lines have backup.

If it had been a distribution line, the neighborhood could have been without water completely.

Last January the same transmission line sent a deluge cascading through the neighborhood.

It's a reminder that residents need to prepare themselves for the possibility of losing their water this time of year.

We always recommend, I think everyone recommends, having some water stored in the house. One case of water, two cases of water so you have water to drink, water to cook with while we restore your water service as quickly as possible," said DiGuilio.

Fortunately this rupture wasn't as disruptive as it could have been.

Gompers Elementary School was able to stay open uninterrupted.

But main breaks can disrupt in other ways like flooding basements and closing roads.

In Roxoborough on Wednesday morning, there was a break on Wise Mill Road that flooded and closed busy Henry Avenue.

It was a skating rink until the salt trucks arrived.

Many of the mains in Philadelphia are over a hundred years old, but even newer ones break when the water temperature gets close to freezing.

Water Department employees are on 12 hour shifts now running from one break to the next.

And it takes time to restore service.

"It could be faster, it could be longer but we try to keep it between a 8-12 hour window," said DiGuilio.

The same factors causing trouble out here can cause trouble in your own home as well.

Click here for tips from the Philadelphia Water Department on how to protect your pipes from freezing.
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