PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A huge hole partially filled with water in the middle of Johnston Road in Penn Hills is the source of Carol Chilcoat’s latest nightmare.

“This is the fourth water main break in two weeks,” she said. “The fifth in two months, all in the same spot. I don’t know what the problem is.”

Officials say every winter there’s an abundance of water main breaks often due to the freeze-thaw process which causes the ground to shift, resulting in broken pipes.

A Penn Hills police officer put up barricades around the break after Chilcoat called 911.

“These yellow tapes, that’s all there was,” Chilcoat said. “Some lady came flying up, she almost made it that far. You wouldn’t know it was here until you are on it.”

In the meantime, Chilcoat and her neighbors are living without water until the Wilkinsburg-Penn Joint Water Authority repairs the break.

“My neighbor is not in the best of health,” Chilcoat said. “She has all these medicines to take, I ran out and got bottled water for her this morning.”

The news is better for the Municipal Water Authority in Aliquippa. On Friday, cold weather caused a 12-inch line to break on Tyler Street, leaving more than 2,000 customers in Aliquippa, Raccoon and Potter townships with no water service or low pressure.

“Everybody in town should have water – all the major leaks are fixed,” said Aliquippa Water Authority General Manager Terrance McConnell. “We have a couple little ones that shouldn’t affect too much.”

McConnell says they’re asking customers in Raccoon Township to boil their water for 72 hours, which is federally mandated for their own protection.

With another round of extremely cold weather on the way, he’s worried about more problems in the system.

“We have a couple other little leaks that normally we would wait because my crew’s tired,” McConnell said. “We’re on them right now – we’re going to stay on them all day.”

Mayor-Elect Bill Peduto is also worried about the impact of cold weather on water lines in the city. He’s already been in touch with the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

“There’s going to be a likelihood of water main breaks,” he said. “So we’re going to be proactive on this. We’ve already started as early as yesterday, making sure that manpower and resources are put out there.”


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