Water Line Woes

By Jim Madalinsky

Published 03/03 2014 11:29PM

Updated 03/03 2014 11:32PM

ALTOONA - It's been non-stop action for Altoona Water Authority workers so far this winter, and now they're afraid this might only be just the beginning.
It has become a common scene and sound this winter.
Water authority crews working to fix another break, all part of one of the worst seasons they've seen.
“It's number 2, but it’s close. The 1994 winter was similar to this,” Altoona Water Authority Maintenance Supervisor Tim Manly says.
Pipes have struggled to stay stable as up and down temperatures have taken their tool.
“The pipes can freeze up before we even have time to fill them in with the dirt so then we have to try to get them thawed out or have people run their water until we get them filled in,” Water Authority Foreman Mike Bianconi says
And built-up frost underneath the surface makes for an uphill battle.
“Right now it's about two to three feet deep in the ground and that does a lot of damage to mains,” Manly says.
The Altoona Water Authority's biggest struggle this year may not be underground though. They say a rough winter season has already been brutal to their budget.
“We've used about 20 percent of our overtime budget for the year and with the breaks and materials we've probably spent $28,000,” Manly says.
And while most people are looking forward to spring, that won't be any easier for water crews.
“Once the temperatures rise the frost is going to move and that's going to create more leaks. We're not done yet,” Manly says.
The water authority says they have been getting as many as five to nine calls a day, and it's not just an Altoona problem. Water authorities throughout Central PA are dealing with similar issues as Mother Nature hasn't been to kind to pipelines this winter season.

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