Temperature changes trigger water main issues

Fluctuating temperatures in the District have been the likely cause of problems surrounding water mains across the city recently, causing breaks to occur due to pipes freezing and thawing underground.

A 12-inch water main broke across from GW Hospital Nov. 2, flooding Washington Circle around 5 a.m. and causing part of Pennsylvania Avenue to close for repairs until 7 p.m., according to the Washington Post.

Alan Heymann, director of public affairs for D.C. Water, said the pipe that broke was installed in 1859, and although the exact cause of the water main break was not determined, Heymann said it was probably due to a combination of age and the quick but distinct changes in temperature.

D.C. Water replaces about 1 percent of the system, or 13 miles of pipes, every year. Heymann said at that rate, the main infrastructure is replaced once every 100 years.

“This isn’t fast enough, but it’s twice the national average and three times faster than our previous schedule,” Heymann said.

Heymann said D.C. Water’s crews are aware that fall is a busy time of year for water main breaks and crews “are on standby to make repairs as quickly as possible.”

University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard said GW has limited responsibility for pipes in the public right away.

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