We don't want to jinx ourselves, but during this cold-weather season, water main breaks come with the water utility territory.
Winter may officially begin today, but this December's unusually cold weather has already cracked more than a few Portland pipes. In 2010, we had 94 main breaks. We've had 145 main breaks so far this year, and as our Maintenance & Construction Director put it, "the year aint over yet!"
Typical water main breaks develop from a simple equation:
frozen ground + cold water + aging infrastructure = main breaks
Thanks to our temperate climate, we don't get nearly as many main breaks as back East. One suburb of Washington D.C. reported to have had 1373 main breaks this year! We're sure glad we don't have nearly as many emergency repairs; our crews work plenty hard in freezing conditions as it is.
So, while you're snug in your home for the holidays, ready to draw a hot bath or run the laundry, think of the Portland Water Bureau crews who are on call to serve you.
Even though our field crews deserve extra appreciation this time of year, I also want to thank our entire bureau of dedicated staff. Your work makes the luxury of clean water look easy, and it's your teamwork that makes me the proudest.
Happy Solstice and Happy 2012!