Hot, Dry Weather Leads to Water Main Breaks

Fort Worth averaging 10 breaks per day

Brittany Minor

The continued run of triple-digit heat is taking a toll on water mains and roads across North Texas.

There were two major water main breaks Thursday, one near the Fort Worth police substation at Lancaster Avenue and Weiler Road and another near Sycamore Park on Avenue B.

It's not yet clear what the cause of the break near the pumping station along Avenue B is, but as hot, dry weather continues, more breaks are possible.

"When we have a hot, dry summer like we're having, we do tend to see more water main breaks because of lots of factors," said Mary Gugliuzza, of the Fort Worth Water Department. "We're putting more stress on our pipes because our customers are using more water, so pressures are up. And as the ground dries out, it causes them (the pipes) to move, especially the old cast-iron pipes."

The heat also means streets and roads are taking a beating.

Rocky Mitchell, of Available Asphalt Concrete & Paving, said his crews are already seeing buckled streets and large cracks in several roads.

"The soil below it gets so dry, and when it gets dry like that and you get traffic, it starts to crack," he said.

And the problems will just get worse until rain arrives, Mitchell said. He pointed out a crack in a Sunnyvale street that is already two inches wide and several inches deep. In time, it could grow another 3 to 4 inches in depth and another 2 to 3 inches in width, he said.

Recently, Fort Worth water crews have been responding to about 10 water main breaks per day, though not all are weather-related.

Thursday night's break at Sycamore Park knocked out water to the Sycamore Park Apartments and lowered water pressure for a vast section of East Fort Worth.

"I didn't know until I went to go do my dishes, and that's when I knew it was off," apartment resident Sherry Davis said.

A block south of the break is the Sycamore Spray Ground, the city's only water park. Dozens of children and their parents or day care providers took advantage of the cool water Friday afternoon. Water that wouldn't be flowing if crews didn't restore water to the area a few hours after the break.

"I am so glad to the city workers -- the city workers doing their job, thank you," said Caroline Hale of Tot's Haven Christian Academy. "Our kids come every Friday, and it would be a great loss for us, because this is our only water park."

A contractor is finalizing the repairs at the Sycamore Park water main break, leaving crews able to respond to any more weather-related breaks.

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