BPU Employees Repair Ruptured Water Main

Jamestown BPU water employees repaired a water main break Tuesday at the intersection of George and Willow avenues, near Willard Street.

“Water main breaks can occur in extreme temperatures,” said Becky Robbins, the communications coordinator for the BPU, after the early morning water main break. “Changes in temperature make the ground shift around water mains, placing weight and pressure on the rigid pipes, causing the water lines to break.”

Water main breaks can be easy to spot, she said, with water gushing up into the air or with water running down the street. Sometimes a small area of melted snow in the yard or road also designates a water main break.

When crews fix a water main break, it can take a couple to 24 hours.

“We first send out a supervisor to make sure it is a water main break,” Robbins said. “Then we call in crews, and then we have to have someone come and mark the lines in the road to make sure where the water is, where the gas is, where the electric lines are.”

The BPU then must locate the leak in the pipe – which can range from a pipe to the water valve needing to be replaced. When the workers turn off the water to the portion of the area served by the broken line, usually only a couple of customers will be inconvenienced, but sometimes larger numbers of people may be affected.

Once repairs are made, customers in the area will see discolored water coming from their faucets. This can last for 12-24 hours, but the water is safe.

“This happens because water direction changes when water mains are placed back in service, causing any sediment in the pipe to stir,” Robbins said.

If a customer notices a water main break, the BPU asks them to report it. During the day, call BPU customer service at 661-1660 or their 24-hour, any day, trouble line at 661-1640.


With the frigid weather, customers can take preventive steps to keep personal pipes from freezing and requiring repairs. Robbins gives a list of steps customers can take to keep their pipes from freezing and breaking:

Check around the home for areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas, such as basements, crawl spaces, attics, garages and under bathroom and kitchen cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas need to be insulated.

Wrap pipes in commercial wraps, rags or blankets. Even newspapers provide some insulation.

Keep garage doors closed if there are exposed water supply lines in the garage.

Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing – especially if the pipes are located against an outside wall.

Disconnect garden hoses. Use an indoor valve to shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets.

Close basement doors and windows tightly.

When water is very cold, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through pipes – even at a trickle – helps pipes from freezing.

Locate shut-off valve and show other people in the home, so it may be used quickly if an emergency may arise.


Due to the extremely cold weather, the Jamestown BPU did not pick up garbage nor recycling on Tuesday. Customers who normally put their garbage out Tuesday should do so today instead.

10714.BPUcold.MD 004: Two Jamestown BPU crews fixed the water main break on Willard and George avenues. Only five houses were affected. The crews alternated with each other in the freezing temperature to keep warm.

P-J photo by Mallory Diefenbach