Invent Civil

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26 Feb, 2009

Watermain Breaks: Causes, Places, and Twitter

Posted by: Skylar In: water

One of my newest rss feeds is a twitter search for the term “watermain”.  Originally I had high hopes for this search.  I expected tips in design, some current infrastructure project updates, and all that fun stuff.  What I got was a continual update on watermain breaks throughout twitter’s domain.  “No water. Main broke on my street.” “X Street is closed due to watermain break” “Sinkhole the size of Y created by watermain break.”

To be honest, I’m not disappointed.  Sure I’d love to see some good ol’ fashioned info about watermain construction, design, or materials.  But it’s also fun to see where all the watermain breaks are happening as it happens.  It actually seems like a majority are reported in the Greater Toronto Area, which would make sense – being a city that can experience a lot of freeze-thaw patterns throughout the winter.  A recent article in the Toronto Sun claims that it’s only beginning: Prepare for a flood of watermain breaks.

This brings me to my next point.  What causes watermain breaks? From the Toronto Sun:

Paul Clements, a manager with Toronto Water, acknowledged most of the city’s 1,500 annual watermain breaks happen in the winter because of what he called “bouncing,” when the ground expands and contracts repeatedly with the changing temperatures.

This is the science behind watermain breaks, but expanding and contracting ground is only the catalyst.  It’s also a problem of aging infrastructure.  Older mains are more worn and weaker, making them more likely to burst.  Bring on that infrastructure stimulus package!

[Click here to see the latest twitter posts about ‘watermain’]

Oh – and here’s the aforementioned sinkhole via twitter.

3 Responses to "Watermain Breaks: Causes, Places, and Twitter"

1 | GfromKC

February 28th, 2009 at 2:25 am


Maybe add “buzzards” to your search!
An engineer friend of mine involved in this sort of work said perhaps he might add buzzards to the payroll!

2 | Pam Broviak

March 22nd, 2009 at 6:38 pm


I want to see a Google map showing all the water main breaks in real time! Can we make that app?

3 | Invent Civil » Watermain Breaks Mapped via Twitter

March 22nd, 2009 at 11:27 pm


[...] Broviak recently commented on my original watermain + twitter post from a few days ago, asking if it’s possible to [...]

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