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Crews Preparing For Water Main Woes As Winter Weather Arrives

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- As winter weather arrives, so do water main woes. Last year's freezing temperatures brought on a record number of breaks.

Meghan McCorkell has more on how public works crews are preparing this season.

City public works crews say as they prepare for this winter, they are replacing some of that aging infrastructure.

A geyser of water shoots out of Avon Hurst Circle in Pikesville Monday night.

"It has already flooded my husband's Corvette. It's been two hours and the water's running. We've called and no one's come yet," said Shirley Bennett, Pikesville.

Water main breaks--a problem that plagued public works crews and lots of homeowners last winter. Officials warn with the thermometer going up and down, we're going to see more scenes just like this.

"This time of the year is when you have ground shifting, you have situations where freezing and thawing starts to take place," said Kurt Kocher, Baltimore Department of Public Works.

Freezing temperatures this January led city public works to see four times the number of water main breaks than usual.

Baltimore's water main system has an average of 1,000 breaks a year and contains 4,000 miles of pipes. It costs $2 million just to replace one mile.

Public works spokesperson Kurt Kocher says city records date some of the water lines back more than a century.

"That water line went in according to our records in January of 1861, which would mean before Abraham Lincoln was sworn in," Kocher said.

As replacement lines go in, the city is launching a water service line protection program. It allows homeowners to pay a monthly fee for coverage on lines on their property to avoid headaches and costly expenses as we head into winter.

The first year of that water line protection program would cost city homeowners $5.99 a month.

The city is accelerating its replacement of old water lines, which is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars over the next five years.

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