With spring on the horizon, will that also come with water main lines breaking as well?

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The warm weather is great for melting, but all that extra pressure with this spring thaw is bringing up some concerns and problems with our pipeline infrastructure.

What’s underground in Duluth right now is over a century old, meaning those pipes can break at any time. Thermal expansion isn’t helping anything, and a recent water main break flooded at least one Duluth home.

“I arrived back home early Monday afternoon and found that the water main had broken and was flooding my driveway and flooding my property.”

For Paul Zwak, a warm and sunny Monday morning turned into a day of dealing with water damage. “Immediately, I called the city and got them here to shut the source off, and then after that, I went down into my basement to find that the water infiltrated into the basement, about two inches of water in the highest spot, saturating my carpets and finishes in the basement.”

With the help of his children, Zawk’s carpet was stripped from his basement, and all of the water was drained from his yard.

If a water main line ruptures on or near a residential property, there’s some uncertainty about who foots the bill to pay for damages, as Zwak has experience with the few phone calls and people he has talked to.

“When I talked to the city adjuster, he explained that the city may not be responsible for that due to the fact that it’s a waterline. If they don’t actually break it with a shovel or break it then that’s not their fault if it’s an act of nature, and they will not probably stand behind it. So that became concerning to me. My insurance company thought maybe they might be responsible for it, but I guess the jury’s still out on whether it’s going to be covered by somebody other than me.”

WDIO reached out to the city of Duluth but has not heard back from them. Mr. Zwak lives in District 1, currently represented by Gary Anderson. He sent WDIO a statement saying, “The water main break on Oakley St has created a terrible situation for at least one homeowner. The city adjuster is working with our attorney’s office to determine the proper response from the city of Duluth.”

Zwak hopes the infrastructure is looked at sooner to avoid future frustration and prevent more spring catastrophes. “The frustration to me is with our city and the aging infrastructure streets, water lines, sewer lines, those kinds of things that people can’t see. I just am concerned that these items aren’t being addressed in a timely fashion, and more of these types of events will occur.”