By: Gillian Sloan

Water main breaks happen for various reasons as a normal part of operating a water utility. Overly dry or wet weather causing the ground to shift, sudden pressure fluctuations, and the normal aging processes of the mains are typical causes of breaks in water mains.

Main breaks are unpredictable, but when they happen, restoring water service safely is OCWA’s priority. Check out WaterOne’s video below for a great visual representation of what happens when a water main breaks.


Please disregard the phone number and WaterOne information provided in the video as it is only for visual representation of a water main break.


Sequence Of Work

  1. Our crews isolate the pipe by shutting off valves and temporarily placing the water supply out-of-service for the time necessary to make the repairs.
  2. After repair or replacement of the broken pipe, it is thoroughly cleaned, disinfected, and flushed prior to being reconnected to the system.
  3. New pipe, like any new container, can produce a new pipe taste and/or odor. This is not uncommon and will usually go away after a few weeks. It is not in any way harmful, only aesthetically displeasing.

After The Crews Have Gone

Following a water main break, OCWA recommends you flush the cold water lines you use in your home or business. We recommend you flush your taps as a precaution because of an increase in the number of water main breaks in our aging infrastructure. It will cost you just pennies per faucet to take this important step.

We suggest running all cold water taps for about fifteen minutes or until water is clear. If you have a single-lever faucet, set it to run the cold water. Begin with the highest faucet in your home or business and then open the other faucets one at a time, moving from your highest floor to your lowest. After water is clear, turn off your faucets in reverse order, from lowest to highest. You should also flush your refrigerator’s water lines.

Flushing your water lines lowers the risk of potential contamination that is created whenever a water main is depressurized because of a break. This is particularly important for people who have special health concerns because their immunity is compromised.

Typically the water is safe to use, however, customers should refrain from drinking water that is discolored. If we suspect that there may be a problem with mains in your area we will post on our “Water Systems Notices and Alerts” page on our website regarding the usage of water. We may also distribute notices door to door regarding the issue.

If you suspect there has been a water main break in your area please contact OCWA Customer Service that is available by telephone Monday Through Friday from 8 AM to 4:30 PM at 315-455-7061 x 3335.