M.U.D. sees increase in water main breaks in Omaha

Metropolitan Utilities District says it's working to resolve the sudden uptick in water main breaks across the city.
Published: Aug. 13, 2023 at 5:11 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Across the metro, you may have noticed lots of construction cones and blocked roads -- but not all of that is because of planned construction.

Metropolitan Utilities District tells 6 News they’re seeing more water main breaks this year, and are trying to resolve the issue.

Right now, several intersections are closed down due to the sudden repair of water mains, and one of those includes 42nd Street from Harney to Farnam.

The water main there broke last Monday, and repairs won’t be finished for another two weeks.

The break has forced the closure of the Clarkson Doctors Building South at Nebraska Medicine, leaving patients no choice but to reschedule appointments.

This is the second time in less than a year that M.U.D. has responded to a water main break at the intersection. It broke last October, too, closing the road for more than two weeks, and again forcing the Clarkson Building to close for several days.

In a statement to 6 News, M.U.D. says it acknowledges the impact the break has on ‘critical traffic flow in the area,’ but it’s not clear why the main broke again.

“Our team will conduct a thorough assessment of the pipe that was removed from the ground to help determine a root cause, and we aim to limit the likelihood of future breaks in major corridors,” the utility tells 6 News.

This water main break is the third one since M.U.D. asked the community to voluntarily limit water usage after another water main break near the Florence Water Production Plant on July 25.

So far, those voluntary measures have been helpful.

“We appreciate the customers who have complied with our request to voluntarily restrict water use. We have seen a decrease in usage, which is a combination of customer efforts paired with the recent cooler temperatures and rain in the area. We continue repairs at our Florence Water Treatment and Production Facility and will provide an update prior to the expiration of our current water restrictions on August 21,” M.U.D. said.

M.U.D. wasn’t able to provide a number on how many water main breaks they’ve seen this year or in recent years, but it says there has been an uptick.

Based on traffic alerts on M.U.D.’s social media accounts, 6 News has counted at least seven water main breaks since May 1.

The utility stresses that employees work around the clock to respond to breaks and make repairs quickly.