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Officials: Water main breaks likely to increase as February thaws, refreezes

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Water main break near 35th and Silver Spring

MILWAUKEE — We’ll likely see more water main breaks as we start to warm up and thaw out a bit, according to Milwaukee Water Works (MWW).

In all of 2018, there were 517 main breaks in Milwaukee. MWW says 146 of those breaks were in January.

Officials say the average number of breaks per month is 44.5.

Thursday, Jan. 31 crews worked to contain a water main break near 35th and Silver Spring, which caused a brown mess of water to flood the area.

According to a news release from MWW, water mains are located under the streets nearly seven feet down. In order for the cold to affect them, the frost line has to penetrate that deep.

“The mild winter up to January 30 had not resulted in a deep frost line. But as the soil around the mains shifts during freezing and thawing, the extra pressure can cause them to break,” MWW said in the release.

MWW officials say when there is a break, they must notify Diggers Hotline to ensure the repair does not damage any underground utilities. That’s why it may take more time for crews to begin work.

The water is turned off to fix the break, and once repaired, turned back on.

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