Amid Cold Spell, DPW Tracks Water Main Breaks and Repairs on Interactive Map

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Broken (red), in-repair (yellow) and fixed (blue) water mains. Still from map, via Baltimore City DPW.

As of around 4 p.m. today, city work crews and contractors are dealing with as many as 95 water mains that have busted in Baltimore City and County due to the ongoing frigid cold spell.

That count comes courtesy of the Baltimore City Department of Public Works’ new interactive water-main repair mapping tool, which displays confirmed broken water mains, water mains under repair and the ones that DPW has successfully fixed. City and county water customers can also search their address to pinpoint where the nearby broken pipe is that’s messed with their water service.

DPW rolled out the tool on Friday following a frustrating, extremely chilly few days that most direly left thousands without running water, and froze whole intersections (and cars) in ice from water that spewed from broken pipes. The map was introduced as a way for customers “to know what’s happening in their neighborhood, and to be able to find this information on the web,” DPW Director Rudy Chow said in a statement.

The number of broken mains has ballooned to nearly 100 from “around three dozen” six days ago, thanks to prolonged well-below freezing temperatures that have placed undue stress on the area’s aged pipes.

DPW spokesman Kurt Kocher said the department should have a full tally of how many breaks happened once the cold weather season is over. Just for perspective, he noted, around 1,800 customers in the city and county have submitted complaints of no water service as of Monday afternoon.

Customers have responded positively overall to the mapping tool, though some have taken exception to slow updates.

“Some people have commented on it that they like it; others say, ‘Well, mine isn’t on there,'” Kocher said. Sometimes a blue check doesn’t show up right away after water service has been restored to a neighborhood, since work is still ongoing to clean up roadwork or re-open a street shut off from traffic, he said. Such was the case Monday at the intersection of Harford Road and Grindon Avenue in Northeast Baltimore.

“There’s gonna be some tweaking of it, but it’ll be a good tool,” Kocher said. “The main thing we want to do is make sure people are taken care of.”

Ethan McLeod
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Ethan McLeod

Associate Editor at Baltimore Fishbowl
Ethan is Baltimore Fishbowl's associate editor. He previously covered Baltimore-area news as a web producer for Fox45/WBFF-TV. Before arriving in Baltimore, he worked as an assistant editor for CQ Researcher in Washington D.C., and a reporter for Connection Newspapers in Northern Virginia. Look for his freelance bylines in Baltimore City Paper and DCist.
Ethan McLeod
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