Burr Ridge water main repairs costly, unavoidable
Burr Ridge's water main repair costs
Updated: April 1, 2013 6:38AM
BURR RIDGE — Every year Burr Ridge encounters about 16 breaks in the pipes that carry water to its customers, and those breaks are more than just a nuisance. They’re an expense.
“It’s an expensive proposition,” said Paul May, director of Public Works.
Most breaks are repaired with the use of outside contractors, to the tune of $116,000 in 2012. But despite that price tag, May said paying contractors is less expensive than having village staff do emergency water main repairs themselves.
May recently looked into the possibility of repairing breaks using village equipment and staff. He concluded the village would have to purchase a backhoe/loader at a cost of about $130,500 and a trench box for about $10,000. Additional staff and overtime would total about $211,000 annually.
“Using a contractor is still the most efficient cost for the village,” May said.
But as the system ages and breaks become more frequent, that could change.
“We’re going to continue to evaluate that,” May said.
May said water main breaks are unavoidable and unpredictable, but the relatively young age of Burr Ridge’s water system makes them less frequent than in older villages. The average life of a water main is 70 to 75 years. More than 50 percent of Burr Ridge’s mains were installed since 1980 and the oldest mains in the village date back to the 1960s.
As spring approaches, water main breaks often become more frequent. May blames freezing and thawing of the earth around the buried mains. The use of a nearby fire hydrant also can lead to a break.
“It puts stress on the system,” he said.
The typical water main break affects only a handful of water customers and last just a few hours, May said.
Village Administrator Steve Stricker said each break costs the village between $3,000 and $6,000.
“Some years we have more breaks than others,” he said.