TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) -— It doesn’t have to get very cold for pipes to bursts in Florida. The Tampa Water Department saw more than five times the normal workload in late December, during the near-freezing temperatures.
The department said it received 300 calls for service last month and in a four-day span, it repaired 100 pipes after they burst during last month’s cold snap.
Aging pipes are a major concern for Tampa’s Water Department, especially during cold snaps like the one we saw in late December.
“We’ve had roughly about 100 main brakes and 300 service calls,” said Chuck Weber, Tampa Water Department Director.
When temperatures dip down, pipes burst.
“We had a lot of crews on standby over the holiday weekend including contractors, so we were able to react pretty fast,” Weber said.
He said the repairs cost millions of dollars in taxpayer money a year.
“50% of these types of main breaks happen to old cast-iron 2-inch pipe,” said Weber. “That pipe typically runs through residential areas and it’s not typically buried as deep as other pipes, so it’s more susceptible to breaking for two reasons because it’s more susceptible to the cold, being shallow and because of its age.”
More than 30 percent of the city’s pipes are at least 60 years old.
“Moving forward, we’re going to focus on our pipes program which we started in 2019 to start replacing this older infrastructure,” he said.
The department is on track to replace 20 miles of water pipeline each year. The Water Department still has 140 restoration projects to complete, which could take weeks, so it’s asking for your patience.