Water main breaks scatter crews across southeast Wisconsin

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by Lane Kimble

MILWAUKEE -- Southeastern Wisconsin started to thaw out this week, but the warm up brought headaches in the form of  water main breaks.

At The Brass Key on West Forest Home Avenue, owner George Tsaousis had just finished his breakfast rush when a  customer alerted him to water rushing in his parking lot.
 

"It's a busy night for us, a very busy night Friday and we have a lot of customers that come here, so we hope it's not going to be any inconvenience," Tsaousis said.

Crews had the break under control within a couple of hours, meaning the restaurant could stay open, but as of 6 p.m., they were still working on the repair.


Others weren't so lucky.  A break just outside Maple Avenue Elementary in Sussex shut down the school Friday.  It was the third day without classes this week.

"We can't have school in session unless there's a water supply," Hamilton School District Spokeswoman Denise Lindberg said.

School leaders notified most of the 500 students before school.  But about a third still showed up only to get released at 10 a.m.

Gary Tennyson got the call to come pick up his granddaughter, Lacey.


"With so many working parents, you just can't turn them loose," Tennyson said.  But missing out on classes didn't bother Lacey.

"Maybe [we'll] play games and mess around and stuff," the second-grader said.

Back in Milwaukee, DPW crews found themselves on eight water main calls at once.  A break near 70th and Capitol sent muddy water rushing toward the busy intersection.

"You've got pipes out here, some of them are 100 years old," DPW Repair Chief Nicola Cefalu said. "That pressure just makes them snap in  half."

"It happens, what can you do," Brass Key owner George Tsaousis said.  "It doesn't happen every day, this is the good thing."

The Milwaukee DPW crew CBS-58 talked to said a typical fix takes them about six hours, but water to businesses and homes only gets shut down for about half that time.  They say they do their best to alert people a half-hour in advance of the shutdown.

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