EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - More than two dozen water mains broke across Evansville in just two days.
The Water and Sewer Utility is working to keep up with these aging infrastructure issues. The number includes one water main break on First Avenue where a transmission pipe is being repaired.
On Wednesday evening, 14 News found lights were off at Chick-fil-A on Evansville’s west side. A message to customers on social media says freezing temperatures caused a water line to break, so it shut down in the middle of lunch.
Across town along First Avenue near Diamond Avenue, water department crews worked for hours to find and repair a transmission pipe that pushes water to customers in the northern district.
“Pretty sure it’s a smaller break, so we may not see that much of a dip in the pressure,” EWSU Executive Director Lane Young explained. “But that is what could happen if it gets worse.”
The city of Evansville has juggled 29 water main breaks in roughly 48 hours.
14 News caught up with a customer by phone who initially thought her family might have had a frozen pipe.
“I was thankful that the water department did send somebody out to check for us because I know they are busy,” Kim Condict said.
EWSU services roughly 60,000 customers with about 1,000 miles of pipes. More than half of these are a century cold. It pulls from the Ohio River, so it is not only air temperatures that cause issues.
“The water temperature of the river has a huge impact on what happens because that’s coming into our pipes,” Young added. “So, water that is flowing down from more northern places, which is colder, as that cold water hits us, we may be warmer here outside. But the water temperature in the pipes is cold. That change in temps causes the pipes to contract and that’s where we have issues.”
Teams are working 16-hour shifts to try to keep up.
“We have enough pressure in our sink that we can fill a gallon of water,” Condict explained. “It takes a while, but we have a gallon jug we just keep filling and pouring in the back of the tank to flush the toilet, and then showers you just have to be quick because it gets cold.”
City officials say more breaks could happen next week as the weather warms up.
The utility also utilizes a mobile app.
In January, the city announced an $8 million dollar infrastructure project to replace several thousand feet of new 36-inch water mains on First Avenue between Morgan and Colonial.
This project is part of the “Refresh Evansville” program.