Tampa crews dealing with dozens of water main breaks

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Roadblocks and water streaming through streets are a common sight for Tampa drivers right now. The city says it is currently working on about 30 active water main breaks, some snarling traffic at a few of Tampa's busiest intersections. 

More than 24 hours after a water main break at the intersection of MacDill Avenue and W. Azeele Street opened up Saturday, water continued to gush from a gaping crater in the road Sunday. Tampa Water Department Director Chuck Weber says repairing that break is especially tricky because of a storm water culvert that shares the space below the road. 

"To do the repair we have to make sure we don't damage that in the process so it's a little trickier repair," explained Weber. "You'll find that it really depends on where the main breaks and whether utilities are next to it or under it or over it, there's a lot of different factors that go into the difficulty of the repair."

Weber says the pipe itself should be repaired by Sunday night, but the road may not be ready for traffic until sometime Tuesday. 

Over the weekend, water main breaks completely closed down several busy, four-lane roads including MacDill at Azeele, Sligh Avenue between Florida and Highland and Armenia Avenue at Columbus Drive. Weber says mother nature, and not necessarily the city's aging infrastructure is to blame. 

"Whenever you have a really good cold snap and then as it starts to warm up, you get a lot of shifting and movement with the pipes and then the dirt and the ground and that's what will cause main breaks, especially in older pipes," said Weber, who also explained both older and newer pipes have been breaking. "Old pipes are more susceptible when they're put under strain and stress but it's not necessarily just an old pipe problem."

While a winter warmup is a welcome reprieve for most in Tampa, Weber warns that the fairer weather will come with a down side.

"I would expect that over the next week we're going to see the rate of breaks, main breaks, that we're seeing to continue to increase for the next several days."