Old galvanized pipes plus extreme cold causes problems for Water Works

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Hundreds of water main breaks are causing a huge mess for the Birmingham Water Works system.

"Those old pipes--those are the ones you're mainly seeing with the main breaks--those old galvanized steel pipes they used to put in the ground 100 years ago," says Rick Jackson, the spokesperson for the Water Works Board.

When you combine them with the below freezing cold, breaks like the one along University Boulevard and 20th Street are bound to happen and maybe more than once.

"We still have several feet or miles of that galvanized pipe that's old," Jackson says. "So we wouldn't be surprised if we had another break that comes up somewhere along this area."

The Water Works has more than 4,000 miles of main throughout the system.

Jackson, the spokesperson for the board, guesstimates over half of it is still galvanized steel.

"We have budgeted for this year $14 million of our capital project specifically for replacing mains."

And he says there are specific areas that have been targeted for repairs.

But holding tight to the plan can be tough, especially when you have what priority breaks.

"If it's going to be a threat to our hospitals, human life, we have to stop whatever ongoing project we do have to address that one," Jackson says.

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