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Cold Conditions To Blame for Water Main Breaks in Cedar Rapids

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - If the freezing cold wasn't bad enough, try stirring in a little water. That's what Cedar Rapids city crews did Monday, dealing with several water main breaks across the city.

The first call for David Packingham's crew came around 6 a.m., a water main cracked under the frozen ground. It's something he expects to see when temperatures get this cold.

"All ground shifts when it gets cold, so when the ground shifts, something has to give and sometimes it is our pipes," Packingham said.

When a pipe breaks, it sends water into the streets and leaves homeowners with a red tag on the door, letting them know their water is out. It typically affects anywhere from two houses to 50 houses.

Crews have to dig to find the leak first and then attach a metal patch to seal the pipe permanently.The cold doesn't make that easy, making metal parts brittle and causing some pieces to break.

"We're up here fighting the elements, the machines are fighting the elements and we have to fight the frost that is in our ground too,"
Packingham said.

One leak took Packingham's crew six hours to fix, and when it is this cold, there was another one waiting for a patch across town.