Excessive heat causing problems to WF infrastructure

Excessive heat causing problems to WF infrastructure

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - The last four days Wichita Falls has reached temperatures of 111 degrees or higher.

It's affecting more than just your air conditioning bill.

It's leading to water main breaks all across town.

"This is a six-inch leak here," Water Distribution Superintendent, Chris Arnold said of a water main break at 7th and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard Monday morning. "This will probably take two to three hours to repair."

The heat has been causing a lot of them.

"The public goes out and when they see a leak they call us and we immediately respond," Arnold said. "We have crews on standby that respond to those leaks."

Why? Utilities Operations Manager Daniel Nix said when temperatures get that high it does a number of things.

"The ground starts to get warmer and starts to expand," Nix said. "So you've got that ground starting to move."

While the ground is moving it's also cracking because it's so dry due to a lack of rain, allowing hot air in.

Nix said on top of that, the pipes are expanding because of that heat and they have warm Lake Arrowhead water running through them.

"It's just a perfect storm for pipes to start breaking and causing water main leaks," Nix said.

Over an average summer week, Wichita Falls sees seven to ten water main breaks.

Last week alone the city saw 25 breaks.

Nix said the spike has forced them to get some extra bodies ready.

"We have more crews on standby," Nix said. "We typically have one on standby during spring and fall. But we're bringing in a second and sometimes a third."

Nix and Arnold both understand how inconvenient a water main break can be and ask people to be patient.

"We don't want to be out there fixing leaks any more than anyone else wants us out there," Arnold said.

"Just bear with them," Nix added. Don't take any frustrations out on those guys. They can be frustrated too. This may be the third or fourth water main leak they're working that day or that night."

This hasn't just been an issue the past week either.

There's been a spike all summer.

Right now the city has over 100 holes to back-fill from work done to replace water main breaks.

Arnold said it's taking his crews two to three hours on average to replace the water lines, but there have been some cases where it's taken up to 16 hours.

The last time Wichita Falls saw this many water main breaks was the summer of 2011 during the drought when they averaged 30 to 40 a week.

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