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Water main break season worse than usual

SAWS reports 385 water main breaks in July alone

SAN ANTONIO – Water gurgling up through the pavement or spewing high like a geyser will be seen all summer long during the water main break season.

On one street Friday, there were two separate water line breaks. San Antonio Water System workers on West Mistletoe Avenue, north of downtown, fixed leaks in the street and in someone's yard.

This year is even worse than usual given the dry weather with lots of 100-degree days. 

"When our clay soils contract, they pull away from the pipes and then a lot of water is going through the pipes, which causes more stress. When that happens, anytime there's a weakness in the pipe, it will give way," said Anne Hayden with SAWS.

In June, there were 160 water main breaks. So far, in July, there have been 385, with 110 of those happening this week.

SAWS has to prioritize all those reports according to size, location, and potential for damage. 

"We try to handle all of these as quickly as possible, but we all have the same 24-hour days. We have crews working overtime. We have crews doing everything they can. We're reassigning people, but we're also asking for a little patience," Hayden said.

When crews do get to a site, it may take some time to coordinate with other utility companies. When a break occurs, the water has to be shut off to repair the pipe, and before they can begin working on repairs, the water has to be pumped out of the hole it filled. 

Once the hole is drained, the work site has to be secured to prevent collapse during work. Then once the pipe is repaired, the street needs to be fixed too. That could take a few days.

SAWS asks residents to make sure their account contact information is up to date so they continue to get service and interruption updates.  To report a line break, call 210-704-7297. 

When reporting a main break, make sure to mention the following:

  • Explain exactly where the break is. Follow the stream of water to where it's bubbling.

  • Let officials know if the break affecting your service and how.

  • Is the break near a critical facility, such as a hospital or school?

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