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Posted on: January 17, 2024

How do water main breaks happen?

Water main document_001

What causes a water main to break? 
A water main break happens due to various reasons and are a normal part of operating a water system. Temperature changes, extreme dry or wet weather can cause the ground to shift which can cause breaks. The age of the pipes or sudden fluctuations in the pressure may also lead to a break. Pipes and fittings may also break or leak due to corrosion. Main breaks are more frequent in the winter time due to frost related ground movement and changes in weather/temperature.

How long does it take to repair a water main?
It can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days to have a water main break completely repaired. The amount of time it takes to fix a water main depends on the size of the break, where the break is located, and what type of environment it is in. Water mains are generally repaired and completed between four to eight hours.  Repairs on a water main that is buried deep inside the earth and conflicts with another utility will take much longer.

What do crews do to fix a water main?
Our NYSDOH trained and certified maintenance team begins by isolating the broken pipe by shutting off valves and temporarily placing the water supply out-of-service to make the repairs. When this occurs, an attempt to notify effected residents and businesses occurs. After the repairs or replacement of the broken pipe is completed, the repaired area is flushed prior to connecting it back to the system. Weather conditions dictate what temporary or permanent pavement and site restorations can be achieved at the time of the break.

What to expect after the water main is repaired and the work crew leaves a site?
After a main is repaired, discoloration may be seen in the water coming into your home or business. Discoloration is caused by small amounts of iron deposits flushing out of the system.  Residents can get rid of the discoloration by running cold water for a few minutes through the lowest tap or faucet within the building that does not have an aerator, such as the basement washtub or outside spigot.

What do I do if I detect a water main break?
A water main break will result in water leakage which may cause running or pooling water in lawns or the street. Additionally, breaks may result in reduced pressure and/or volume at your faucets or showers. If you see pooling or running water and suspect water main break at any time, please contact 911. You may also contact the City of Geneva Department of Public Works by phone during normal business hours at our City DPW/Engineering office at 315-789-3101 or by email at complaints@geneva.ny.us 


We thank all residents and businesses for their patience and apologize for any inconveniences this unexpected work may have caused.  We appreciate everyone following emergency traffic control directions and temporary road closures which are in place for your safety and the protection of our workforce. 

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