Catonsville and Arbutus water main breaks were caused by old pipes running through the area, according to a report from the Baltimore Sun. Garden Ridge Road was the source of resident anger as water started to bubble up from a hole in the street.
The buckling resulted in rocks spitting up at motorists.
The road buckled moments after the water started to bubble out of the road. Katheryn Compton recounts driving down the road as rocks spit up at her vehicle. She quickly drove home to her residence in Catonsville prior to the road buckling.
Her daughter heard the sound of water outside of the house several hours later and thought the noise was pouring rain. She looked out the window to see water shooting up out of the water main and spewing water on both sides of her home.
The county pipe lining deteriorated over the years leading to the water main break.
Water continued to shoot out of the water main for four hours, causing the streets to turn into sheets of ice. Subfreezing temperatures caused numerous water main breaks around Garden Ridge.
The low temperatures lasted for ten days, causing traffic closures, water service interruptions and house damage.
Baltimore’s City Department of Public Works has not commented on the number of water main breaks during the ten-day period. Water main breaks were reported in at least a dozen areas over a three-day period, leading many residents to believe that there were well over a dozen old water main breaks in January.
Repair crews were ordered to work 12-hour shifts in an attempt to repair the broken pipes.
Arbutus suffered from a water main break that left 12-inches of water in the intersection. Four fire hydrants remained inoperable at the time and 85 customers had no water service at the time. Leads Avenue had a segment that was shut down while repair crews tried to correct the problem.
One family claims that they had no water for over 24 hours.
Residents were seen outside melting snow for drinking water. Catonsville’s Y invited residents that didn’t have water to use the facilities for bathing even if they weren’t members. The invitation was shared on Facebook. The Y claims that they have a responsibility to the community in times of need.
Water main breaks are common in Baltimore, where many of the city’s sewer lines are more than 50 years old. The sewer pipes were made with terra cotta in many cases. The material, no longer used for piping, is brittle and will break under the stress of the cold.
Pipes that break are replaced with new, stronger material. The city does inspect and replace any pipes that are at risk of breaking. The County of Baltimore has invested over a billion dollars in their infrastructure. The county has inspected hundreds of miles of pipes but has 2,139 miles of water lines to inspect.
Water spewing on to resident homes caused many roofs to start leaking, especially for older townhomes. The cold weather caused the water to freeze on the roofs, causing significant damage in the process. Residents hope that the local government will pay for the damages.