Burst water main affects dozens of businesses

Burst water main affects dozens of businesses

LAWTON, Okla._Dozens of Lawton businesses are without water for a second day after a water main burst on Lawton's west side.

City officials say a 24-inch pipe at Southwest 42nd Street and Lee Boulevard burst, sending crews ten feet into the ground to make the repairs. There's no word on how long it will take. A similar break that happened a few weeks ago, took about three days to repair, but this one may be more difficult than anticipated.

In order for crews to get to the pipe, they had to carefully excavate around a high pressure gas line. Had that gas line been hit, it would have caused an entirely new set of problems. And while not every break is this tricky, they do happen and could become more frequent.

Afsaneh Jabbar, assistant director of water, says the wet spring actually helped stabilize the pipes.

"When there isn't enough moisture, the soil shifts. It's the pressure that it puts on the pipe that causes the main to break," said Jabbar.

The shifting ground results in only a couple main breaks per day, but Jabbar predicts an increase as the ground begins to dry out in the summer heat. Jabbar says breaks can be caused by a number of things.

"Change in pressure, opening and closing valves. You have to open and close valves very carefully, if you slam them then that causes a transient pressure in the pipe," explained Jabbar.

Jabbar says most of the breaks are caused by aging pipes, some of which are 70 to 80 years old that the city is working to replace. As far as preparing for the possibility of numerous breaks, Jabbar says they are training crews to improve repair tactics. She says when there are multiple leaks at one time, the city has to prioritize.

"The ones that are going to affect more people and cause more damages, those are the ones we take care of first," Jabbar said.

There are several other breaks across the city, but because this one affected a high quantity of people, it took priority. It is important to note, however, no homes are being affected.

Crews are working around the clock to get the break at Southwest 42nd Street and Lee Boulevard finished as soon as possible.