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Crews Repair Five Broken Water Mains

March 7, 2012, 4:55 PM by Hailey Higgins

Crews Repair Five Broken Water Mains

Sioux Falls experienced serious water issues overnight after water mains broke from downtown to the Empire Mall. And as the sun rose, many homes and businesses were still without water.

Roads were torn up and traffic was diverted as crews repair five water main breaks. The biggest mess was between 9th and 10th Streets on Phillips Avenue, right in front of Sinful Things Gourmet Desserts.

"I came to the front of the building and looked and saw a big, gaping hole in the street and I knew that didn't bode well for business," Sinful Things Gourmet Dessert Co-Owner Jennifer Beckman said.

The broken water main prevented any water from reaching Beckman's prep kitchen. She says it brought business to a screeching halt.

"The restrooms don't work. You can't wash dishes. Any recipes that call for water, I can't make. I can't wash my hands and when you run a restaurant, you have to wash your hands," Beckman said.

The damage is the result of an attempt to drain the Menlo Avenue water tower. Public Works Director Mark Cotter says the pressure dipped too low in the system.

"Water mains, they can break. We can see at least one or two per week so our crews are outfitted. They are geared up for this type of work.  We just typically don't see three, four, five in one night," Cotter said.

Cotter says Tuesday's warm weather likely thawed the ground, which also may have attributed to the breaks. And yet, it wasn't the only problem.

The movement of water also had an effect on interior sprinkler systems.  The change in water pressure alerted sensors inside fire alarms. Fire crews responded to calls from 20 buildings Tuesday night, including calls from businesses, schools and the Sioux Falls Arena.

While crews continue to work to restore water, Beckman says she will buy bottled water to keep her business afloat.

For those who didn't have water Wednesday morning, city workers are going door-to-door letting people know they should boil their water.  If you haven't been contacted and haven't found a note on your door, your water should be safe.

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