Cold Snap Causes Water Mains to Burst

TOPEKA, Kan. - Our winter cold snap has busted water mains across Topeka. Crews have been busy all day trying to repair the lines and will likely have to work into the night.

There were five water line breaks across Topeka Monday. There was one in the Montara neighborhood near 69th and Clearview; another at 17th and Wanamaker; one at 21st and Edgewater; one in the 3600 block of Chelsea; and at 20th and Oakley where crews say they could be working well into the night.

"I think it was the cold snap that kind of sent a shock through the system," said City of Topeka Water Division foreman, Pete Voback. "When there gets ice on the river it doesn't take long for them to pop the water lines."

Vobach and his men are one of three crews working to repair water main breaks across the city. They've got five sites to fix as soon as possible.

"We're gonna work on this a chunk of the evening," Vobach said. "It'll go late."

That's not something residents in those neighborhoods want to hear.

"Unfortunately they're just gonna be without water until we can get this repaired," Vobach said. There are about a dozen homes without water west up 20th Street from Oakley, and about 40 were without water in the Montara neighborhood.

The main break in that neighborhood wasn't caused by mother nature, like the others. City officials say a plumber accidentally hit the line, sending water shooting into the air.

"It was coming out with such force. It was shooting over the trees." Earl Harris' car was covered in water that sealed it in ice. He said he watched the tree limbs snap off and fall onto his car.

Crews are working through the night to repair all the mains and get water back on.

They do have some advice for residents when the weather gets this cold.

"Pipes aren't in the best shape, maybe just let the water trickle a little bit. That always helps," Vobach said. "Might keep something from freezing up in the house."

Vobach said crews are putting a brand new water line in at 20th and Oakley because the current one is "old and broken in several spots.

"It's just better off to put new pipe in there," he said. It will be several weeks before the concrete is put back over the pipe in that area so drivers will be detoured.

631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email:
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