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Neighbors concerned about waterline breaks

by: Farron Salley Updated:


TULSA, Okla. - City of Tulsa crews have responded to more than two dozen water breaks in the last two days. 

While the city plays catch up repairing old pipes, homeowners are growing concerned their property could have the same fate. 

FOX23’s Farron Salley discovered it costs the city about $12 million a year to replace old water lines. 

She also found some homes in Tulsa are just as old as those pipes, but they’re less likely to encounter problems. 

“We’ve lived here about 53 years and everybody says, ‘why don’t you move south,’” said Mary Washburn, who lives near the water break. 

Washburn said she’s never leaving this home, despite that just one door down crews repairing a water line break cut off her water for hours.

 “I’ll be glad when fall comes so we won’t have this hot weather to worry about,” she said. 

The heat causes the soil to expand and contract, that adds pressure to these old pipes. 

“The useful life of that pipe was not as great as it’s expected to be and so in many cities including Tulsa we’re seeing a lot of failure in those pipes,” said Bob Bledsoe, a city of Tulsa spokesperson. 

FOX23 found out that Tulsa used cast iron to build thousands of miles of large pipes back in the 40’s and 50’s. And those are the ones breaking down.

“Most of the water lines going into homes from the meter to the house are small diameter lines,” said Bledsoe. 

Some older homes may also have water line breaks but many houses, especially newer ones are built with steel pipes. The city is replacing all of its old cast iron with a material called PVC. 

“Its happened before but I hope it don’t happen again,” said Washburn.

So far the city hasn’t needed to replace any of the PVC pipes. 

The city normally sees a spike in water breaks around late August, so even though there weren’t as many breaks Tuesday morning as there were Monday, crews are still bracing for a lot of work ahead.