For those of you are not aware, the City had experienced several water main leaks lately. We would like to provide our customers with information about why those leaks are common and what the City is doing to correct them. This is a common problem that many of our neighboring communities are also combatting. The underlying cause, no pun intended, is the shifting ground surrounding the pipes adds stress to the pipes. Persistent cold weather (or hot weather) causes the ground to shift more abruptly, thus causing it to expand or contract. Water running through the pipes does not freeze; it is the ground around the pipes that causes many of the problems. The presence of frost in the soil can lead to excessive expansion of the ground, in turn causing pipes to shift and break. In these conditions, the soil contracts and subsides, pulling away from the pipe and diminishing support for the water main. The absence of support for the main can cause it to break
The age of the pipes can be a problem, such as in the degree of corrosion and decay of seams that connect the pipes. Many of City’s pipes are more than 40 years old. Water mains are expected to last a long time – as long as 100 years in many cases. But with many miles of pipe buried underground, it’s reasonable to expect a particular section of pipe will fail or break at some point. The challenge for the City is to work proactively to minimize the number of breaks and to respond effectively without interruption of services when a main does break.
The City of Phillipsburg has approximately 20-25% of its distribution system that is made up of 2 inch galvanized mains that has reached the end of it useful life. The City has been progressive in replacing these lines over the last several years with 4 inch PVC mains. PVC is more flexible and has a much longer life span. This process is expensive and will take several years to complete. The City staff has identified these lines and has included them in the City’s Master Plans for replacement. In the meantime, there's nothing the consumer can do, but report main breaks as soon as they are spotted.
If you have any questions or wish further information about these water line leaks or the replacement of lines feel free to contact the City office at 785-543-5234 for additional information.