Changing temperatures led to bursting pipes in Tulsa

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Reported by: Farron Salley
Updated: 1/06 9:08 pm Published: 1/06 5:22 pm

Rapidly changing temperatures are to blame for water main breaks across the city of Tulsa, officials said.

On Monday, crews spread across Tulsa tried to fix the breaks but FOX23 found they have limitations.

FOX23's cameras were rolling Monday morning while water pumped out of a hole near 36th and Riverside.

A small stream flowed down the street. FOX23 learned this is one of eight current breaks in the city.

FOX23's Farron Salley went to City Hall to find out what's being done.

"It gets down to zero and below for a few days and then it gets back up into the 40s or 50s and all of a sudden that soil starts expanding again," said Bob Bledsoe with Public Works.

The soil contracts when it's cold and expands when it warms up.

"That soil movement puts a lot of pressure on those buried lines," said Bledsoe.

Since temperatures should peak in the 40s later this week, this is only the beginning.

Bledsoe said there's no way of determining where there will be enough movement to break a pipe, but a spike in breaks is coming.

"When we have a spike like that, does it put a strain on the crews? Well, sometimes it does I've seen a couple of days where we've had 25 or 30 breaks in a single day," said Bledsoe.

The only way to prepare is keep crews ready.

"They try to encourage the workers that do this job who repair the water lines to take their vacation on other times of the year and be on call now so they try to keep a full staff if possible during these periods when we know we're going to have an increased number of breaks," said Bledsoe.

And as far as equipment, "It's not like you can just stockpile a lot of material," said Bledsoe.

The pipes come in many different sizes but the city is slowly trying to standardize them.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Mayor Maynot - 1/7/2014 4:47 AM
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It really breaks less if you keep it dripping. By neglecting that factor you could quite possibly cause the main to rupture.
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