Trio of overnight water main breaks keep Emporia Underground Utilities crews busy Featured

Underground Utilities crews have blocked the intersection of 24th and Industrial after a water main break overnight. Underground Utilities crews have blocked the intersection of 24th and Industrial after a water main break overnight. Chuck Samples/KVOE News

For the most part, Emporia has largely avoided significant water main breaks this spring and summer, even with around 30 inches of rain from late April into early July followed by a four-day burst of extreme heat and humidity. That may be changing.


Earlier this week, Underground Utilities had to fix breaks in the 600 block of Garfield and the 300 block of Sherman. From Wednesday night to early Thursday morning, crews had three significant breaks to fix: a 10-inch line on 15th just west of Rural, a 12-inch line on 24th at Graphic Arts and another 12-inch line on 30th near Prairie. Department supervisor Mike Dvorak says the break at 30th and Prairie was explosive, with spray going some 70 to 75 feet above ground.

The break on West 15th has been fixed. Work is underway at 24th and Graphic Arts -- with the intersection blocked until further notice -- and at 30th and Prairie.

Causes for these breaks are unclear.

The water main breaks developed hours after the Emporia City Commission announced utility rate increases for 2020. Wastewater and sewer fees could increase as much as 10 percent, with water rates possibly going up 8 percent and stormwater fees 3 percent to offset repair and renovation costs. City commissioners say a final decision may come this fall and rate increases may be lower once they are finalized.

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