Water restored to businesses impacted by water main break

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Water was flowing again on Tuesday, February 19th to several downtown Milwaukee businesses impacted by a water main break.  Nearly a dozen restaurants and bars near Water St. and Juneau Ave. were forced to close Monday night, February 18th during their peak hours.

"A firefighter came in and told us we're not going to have any water," Michael Rein, owner of Ian's Pizza's on Juneau Ave said.

Around 6:00 Monday night, part of a six-inch water main on the corner of Water & Juneau split apart.  Water service was immediately shut off.  The bars and restaurants on that block were forced to close shop.

"There was no water.  We turned our faucets on and nothing came out, so we couldn't mop, we couldn't do our dishes, we couldn't wash our hands," Rein said.

Rein said due to health codes, no water meant no food making, so the entire night of business, or about 200 pizza sales, were lost.

"Our bar time is our main focus.  That's our main hook around here.  These are our main customers," Rein said.

As Public Works crews worked to repair the break, bars like Rogues Gallery and Red Rock Saloon posted signs on their doors to let patrons know they were closed. About eight businesses were affected.

The Department of Public Works says about four feet of pipe needed to be replaced.  It took all night to make those repairs.  After more than 12 hours, around 7:00 a.m. Tuesday, water was flowing again.  Businesses were then allowed to reopen.

That was good news for Ian's Pizza, which opened in time for the lunch hour rush.

"We were crossing our fingers when we walked in, and luckily enough, it is working now.  It's business as usual," Rein said.

DPW officials say it is unclear what exactly caused the water main break, but they say old pipes and cold weather could be contributing factors.  The city of Milwaukee has dealt with 68 water main breaks so far this winter.