BALTIMORE - The same crew working to repair a break in a 16-inch cast iron water main on Kirk Avenue faces a similar task every other day---digging a large hole in the middle of the street, cutting out the nine-foot cracked portion of the pipe, replacing it and covering it up again.
Only the faces of those impacted by the break seem to change.
"You never know how much you need water until you don't have it,” said Karen Gibson who watched the work from her front porch, “I have grandbabies that live here. One-year old twins live here and everything. We have to take medication and I have a disabled son so we need water."
The city averages about three water main breaks per day or about a thousand per year.
"This is costing us more in the long run, if we don't replace this and just keep patching,” said City Public Works Spokesman Kurt Kocher.
The city is trying to be pro-active in replacing more of its century-old system each year without placing an undue burden on its customers.
"We're going to be going from 20 miles hopefully within a year to up to 40 miles five years from now. It's replacement. Every year after five years, it's going to be 40, 40, 40 every year so that we can really catch up with a crumbling infrastructure system. We don't get any assistance for this. It all comes out of our water bills," said Kocher.
That’s 40 miles of new pipe each year in a system that stretches more than 4,000 miles long.
It can’t come soon enough for flood victims from this latest break like 76-year old Sammie Lane.
The same line swamped his basement three years ago and the contents were a total loss.
"I had a pool table, a television, books and pictures," said Lane, "I had to pay out of my own pocket to get this junk cleaned up and out of here."
In addition to losing what he called his most valuable possessions, Lane says that clean up three years ago cost him over $400.
Workers finished the repairs and got the water service restored by Thursday afternoon.
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