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July 14, 2004 - Updated 4:55 pm - Rockford
Water Main Break To Steer Aspects of City's Future

Posted 7/14/04 4:04 p.m.
Updated 7/14/04 4:55 p.m.

by Sean Lewis

The sign of an aging downtown flooded through the 300 block of N. Church Street Wednesday with a major water main break. It's a sign that the City of Rockford may have to navigate through an expensive future replacement and repairs.

"Several hundred gallons (of water) per minute go through these 12-inch water mains downtown," says Rockford Water Division Superintendent Tim Holdeman. 

The now broken section of cast iron water main was put in around the time of World Wart II.

"Some of this cast iron pipe, which doesn't have the strength of today's pipe, can break," says Holdeman. 

Much of the city's water system is the same, and is slowly needing to be replaced as it comes to the end of its useful life.

Right now many cities including Rockford are faced with patchwork of new pipe, like the N. Church Street project.

"You know, in an ideal situation, we'd have new pipe everywhere. But that's just not feasible. It's cost prohibitive," says Holdeman. 

In fact, it would cost millions to replace every old water main with new equipment. The national organization, Water Infrastructure Network, estimates that $1 trillion will be spent across the country in the next 20 years to replace water mains and treatment plants.

"And so if you look at the numbers, we're on the front end of a major nationwide replacement of our instrastructure," says Holdeman. "And Rockford's no different than other areas of the United States."

For now, Rockford will deal with it just like most of those other areas- with a patch of new pipe to make up the difference and get the water to flow again.

This year, the City of Rockford plans to spend just over $2 million on water main replacement projects.

Because of the break, a boil order is in effect for the area between W. State St. to the north, Marchesano Dr. to the south, Euclid Ave. to the west and the Rock River to the east. If you live in that area, you should boil your water before use for the next 48 hours.

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