On average, the Water Bureau responds to 200 main breaks each year. Last week alone, Water Bureau crews responded to 14 water main breaks. That’s 7 percent of the main breaks that occur during the entire year.
At the Portland Water Bureau, we call this time of year “Main Break Season”. This is because water main breaks can occur with greater frequency during cold weather, which means that Water Bureau Maintenance and Construction crews are called out during all hours in severe weather to repair broken mains. Last week’s drop in temperature and subsequent snow falls were no different. Repair crews were kept busy from downtown Portland to deep Southeast repairing broken water mains.
City and State Agencies Work Together to Repair Water Main Breaks
On Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 9 p.m., Water Bureau Maintenance crews responded to last week’s largest water main break at Southeast 82nd Avenue and Southeast Ellis Street that closed Southeast 82nd Avenue. The ruptured pipe was an 8-inch cast iron water main installed in 1912.
Water Bureau crews worked around the clock in cold temperatures for almost 24 hours to replace 30 feet of pipe. Once the pipe was repaired and the excavation site filled with gravel, the road was ready to be paved. By 4 p.m. on Sunday, repaving was finished and crews with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) removed traffic barricades and road conditions returned to normal.
This multi-day repair effort brought together multiple City and State agencies – the Portland Water Bureau, PBOT, Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) – that worked closely together to ensure repair work was completed efficiently and water service restored.
And bureau cooperation didn’t stop there! During the snow storm, the Water Bureau gave a helping hand to PBOT by lending them dump trucks to haul sand to locations throughout the city to aid in their response to unsafe roads.
Recognizing the Water Bureau’s Invisible Heroes
Special recognition goes to the invisible heroes of the Water Bureau’s Maintenance and Construction crew that worked in extreme cold during last week’s winter weather to repair and restore water service to Portland-area homes and businesses.
Main Breaks: How to Report Them and What to Expect
Please be our eyes and ears. If you suspect that a main is broken in your neighborhood, please call the Water Bureau’s 24-hour emergency line at 503-823-4874.
Learn more about water main breaks, and what to expect if a main breaks in your area, by visiting the Water Bureau’s Main Break Season info page.