Water Main Breaks Focus Attention on Minnesota’s Aging Pipes

January 10, 2013

Recent water main breaks that released millions of gallons of water onto streets in Duluth and Minneapolis, Minn., have focused attention on aging underground pipes that are common in other cities as well.

In Duluth, a water main break poured 3 million gallons of water onto downtown streets New Year’s Day. Mayor Don Ness says the city spends about $2.3 million each year to fix breaks and leaks in the city’s 426 miles of underground pipes, half of which are more than 80 years old. Ness says the city needs to replace the pipes, not patch them.

In Minneapolis, the broken pipe that gushed an estimated 14 million gallons of water onto downtown streets was installed in 1890. Minnesota Public Radio News says a 2007 federal study estimated Minnesota’s drinking water system needs $6 billion in repairs and upgrades.

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