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Water Companies Scramble As Subfreezing Temperatures Create Subterranean Cracks

By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The deep freeze brings with it winter-related concerns for water utilities, such as cracked pipes and water main breaks.

Today, a crew from Aqua America, the regional water company that serves the Main Line, was working along Montgomery Avenue in Rosemont, Pa.

The crew was dispatched after the company was notified that a pool of water had formed on the roadway, which froze in today's near-zero temperatures. They salted it, then began searching for its source.

They drilled holes through the blacktop,  pushing a steel rod down to touch the 16-inch transmission line that brings a large volume of water to area homes and businesses.

Aqua Pennsylvania president Steve Tagert watched as they cranked up special listening gear.

"Much like if you're in a house and you hear a toilet leaking, they'll hear that same sound, which gets magnified," he explained.

The aim is to pinpoint where the leak is, before excavating.

"So, it's not always just where the water is coming up," Tagert said.  "(The leak) may be 50 feet up the street."

He notes that the extreme, the frozen soils, and cold water combine to add stress to pipes, which can result in fractures.

Aqua Pennsylvania serves more than 1.4 million people in thirty counties in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.


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(credit: Steve Tawa)
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