TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Water Department is asking for patience from the public as crews work to catch up after nearly 100 pipe breaks were reported in a matter of days at the end of December.
Experts say last month’s cold weather and with aging infrastructure are to blame.
“The cold snap at the end of December has led to over 100 main breaks and 300 service calls in the last week and a half,” said Tampa Water Department Director Chuck Weber.
He said that’s more than five times the normal workload for the department’s crews. Weber said about half of the breaks are to older 2-inch cast iron pipes.
“Those pipes are usually buried a little shallower, so they’re more susceptible to cold, as well,” he said. “But because they’re older pipes, it really doubles the effects of the potential to have a main break.”
Weber said 30% of Tampa’s pipes are between 60 and 100 years old. The city’s nearly $3 billion PIPES project is aimed at replacing that aging infrastructure. When it comes to this latest round of breaks, Weber said the focus now is on restoration.
“A plea for patience, because I know this disrupts everybody’s lives having to deal with street closures like this,” he said at a news conference near one recent break on N. 10th Street.
Weber said it’s expected to take crews about a month to catch up with the work.