Water main breaks keep Buffalo crews busy

BUFFALO, N.Y.  (WIVB) — Bitter cold weather is taking a toll on water mains in Buffalo.

Crews spent Monday making four emergency repairs, although they were minor according to the city’s public works commissioner Steve Stepniak.

“This is something that is not unusual for us or for the eastern region,” Stepniak said. “It’s  nothing that’s over the top here.”

The city of Buffalo spends about $15 million dollars every year making repairs and replacing old pipes.

Ice cold water gushing out in a swift current is not uncommon on ice-frozen Buffalo streets.

That’s the reality when an aging pipes holding freezing water can no longer take the pressure of shifting earth.

It’s all part of the freeze, thaw cycle, but they can be a nuisance.

Amherst Street resident Diane Marra talked about a water main burst on her block over the weekend.

“There was bubbling water all over the street,” she said. “It went all night long. Spread water everywhere. Created these huge icebergs that I’m watching people slip on my sidewalk walking by.”

City crews pulled out a 120 year old valve that no longer worked.

Monday, in North Buffalo, a back-hoe battery died while the crew was on a lunch break. It took several jumps in the freezing cold to get the diesel engine to turn over.

“We only went to lunch. We go for lunch and we came back and it wouldn’t start,” Joe Genova said. “But it’s pretty cold out today.”

One of Steve Stepniak’s prized positions is a chunk of wooden water pipe dating back to the late 1800’s in Buffalo.

He let reporters get a close up look, but made sure they understood that wood is no longer used to carry water in the city.

“They went to cast iron after this,” he said, “And then ductile pipe after that, which is very effective for us. But again, this (wood pipe) is non-existent. It’s just a piece of history.”

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