Water main break latest issue as EWEB works around the clock

EUGENE, Ore. - The pipe didn't freeze, but the cold caused soil to shift, breaking a water main at 18th and Polk early Tuesday morning.

Eugene Water & Electric Board crews got the call at 2 a.m. and got to work digging in. Work was completed by 1 p.m.

EWEB has been working around the clock since Friday's snowfall, responding to frozen and broken pipes.

"This is an underground pipe. This was not frozen. This was probably broken by moving soil," said Roger Gray, EWEB General Manager.

Gray said calls have been pouring in since the snow hit Friday.

"Our crew here - all of our water crews - have been out for almost two solid nights," he said.

But that's not the only concern for Gray.

"The thing we worry about a lot is - just because they're out here in traffic - is people driving by," Gray said. "That's probably the number one risk is drivers driving by, especially on these slick roads."

Gray also had a few tips to keep residents and businesses from experiencing problems under their roofs.

"Keep a little bit of water running in your home," Gray said. "That's true on both hot and cold side, it consumes water and a little bit of energy but it's better than having burst pipes."

EWEB urges all of its customers to follow some basic, low- or no-cost tips to help cope with the cold weather and avoid expensive repair bills:

Insulate all pipes located in unheated areas, such as the garage, basement and garden areas. Inexpensive foam insulation is available at most home improvement stores.

Disconnect outside hoses, wrap faucets and cover them with plastic or faucet covers.

Cover crawl space vents with cardboard or plywood when temperatures dip below freezing. Remember to uncover vents when the weather warms up.

At 20 degrees Fahrenheit or less, turn on a small but steady stream of cold water at the inside faucet furthest from the water meter. Also, open cabinet doors below the sink to let warm air circulate around water pipes.

Drain and winterize underground irrigation systems, including yard sprinklers and backflow preventers. Be sure to wrap the backflow preventer with insulating material.

If your pipes do freeze and you know where the frozen spot is, wrap the pipe with warm towels.

Never use a flame or hair dryer to thaw frozen pipes.

If your pipes break, shut off your water using the hand valve at the meter. If you cannot get the water turned off, call EWEB at (541) 685-7000 for assistance.