Dozens of water mains break under increased water pressure

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by Marshanna Hester

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee city crews are busy plugging leaks.

Milwaukee Water Works officials say there have been 50 water main breaks since Saturday. As of noon Monday, 41 of them had been fixed, leaving crews to tackle nine more.
 
One of the latest breaks happened at 15th and Congress, sending water flowing down the street. 
 
The damage to the road is very visible with buckling and huge cracks. 
 
Milwaukee Water Works Superintendent Carrie Lewis said the mains, likely installed between 1945 and 1965, are busting under increased water pressure because the water treatment plant on the north side is pumping harder to supply all Milwaukee customers.  
 
A leak on an 84-inch water main coming out of the Texas Avenue pumping station forced officials to shut it down Saturday and the south side plant it supplies. 
 
Lewis said they couldn't predict or prevent the problem. 
 
There are plans to do excavating this week to find the source of the leak. 
 
"We're hoping there will be a short quick fix we can make to the pumping station to put the treatment plant back in service, while we figure out what the longer term repair could be," she said.
 
Right after the water main is fixed, Lewis said a public works crew follows behind to make permanent repairs to the road.
 
The cost to fix the mains comes from rate payers, but it's a service already included in their water bill.
 
Lewis said the water is safe to drink.

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