Water main breaks have kept Carlisle’s public works crews busy in January, but no more so than in other winters.
Mark Malarich, the borough’s director of public works, said the breaks are common any time there is a change in temperature, particularly when there are extremely cold temperatures such as those seen in mid-January.
“When that occurs, we typically have issues with water mains or customer service lines,” he said.
A quick scan through alerts posted on the borough’s Facebook page during January shows there have been six water main breaks in different parts of town during the month. Looking at the data from the past five or six years, Malarich said the number of breaks is about the same.
“It really depends on the severity of the weather,” he said.
The borough budgets for repairs to water mains, and it keeps track of the hours spent on them as the crews can sometimes be called out in the middle of the night.
In addition to weather conditions, the type and age of the pipe can be a concern, as can the conditions into which it was placed. If a pipe’s trench was well constructed with good bedding, there will be fewer issues than with pipes that are not well placed.
“It points to the need to make sure that our pipes are replaced as needed,” Malarich said.
If a resident sees signs of a water main break, such as water on the street when it isn’t raining or water running out of a home, they should report it to the borough at 717-240-6930 if it is between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Outside of those hours, residents should contact the borough police department at 717-243-5252.
Also as a result of the water main breaks, some residents may have noticed a chlorine smell in the water. According to a post on the borough website, the water is safe to drink and there is no need to be concerned. The post said water main breaks result in low water pressure, service disruptions and increased demand for water at the water treatment plant. During times of increased demand, the operators of the plant monitor the treatment process closely to assure the water meets or exceeds standards. That may result in a chlorine smell.
The borough advised that those with a sensitivity to chlorine odor or taste allow water to sit for several minutes before drinking to allow the odor to dissipate.