KC Water Services hard at work repairing old infrastructure - KCTV5

KC Water Services hard at work repairing crumbling infrastructure

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City crews were busy Monday fixing yet another water main break in Kansas City, but they are used to hard work.

The combination of aging infrastructure and vast service area makes the water department one of the busiest departments in the city.

Over the last few years, KCTV5 has covered countless water main breaks and heard from more than a few frustrated customers.

Many of the breaks, including the break near East 81st Street and Agnes Avenue last month, went unfixed for days.  And while the water department admits they can do better, they also hope customers realize what they're up against.

"Some of our system still exists from the late 1800s. Just last year, we pulled some pipeline from the River Market that dates back to 1874 and was some of the first pipeline laid in Kansas City," said Jennifer Kincaid, spokeswoman for the Kansas City Water Services Department.

However, Kincaid said aging pipelines aren't their only problem.

The shear size of Kansas City, some 318-square miles, means crews are nearly always stretched thin.

"If you think of 318-square miles, the city of St. Louis would fit nearly five times within our city limits. So our number of pipeline miles compared to a city like St. Louis is much bigger," Kincaid said.

Despite those challenges, many wonder if the department could spend their resources more wisely, citing a recent move to spend $12 million to improve their customer service - money that could be used to hire more repair crews.

Kincaid dismissed those concerns, saying they are making the right moves to improve the overall system.

She cited a long-term plan to replace 1 percent of all pipes, or about 28 miles, every year.

Kincaid said as that work continues, the system will improve, hopefully leading to less breaks.

The department said the new pipes will last 50 to 75 years and are environmentally friendly because they are made from recycled cars.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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