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Drought: As bad for water lines as a Buffalo winter

Hot, dry weather is a recipe for water-main breaks.

Just like in a deep freeze, the arid, parched ground during a sweltering summer creates the perfect conditions for cracked pipes.

So while you might be hearing about more water-main breaks in the area – especially in the wake of last week’s major rupture with led to a boil-water advisory for a quarter-million people – it’s not unusual for the number of breaks to spike in Western New York this time of year.


(The video is by Rocco Zarcone)

Michael E. Kessler, director of water resources for the Town of Tonawanda, suggests you think of the ground below like a sponge.

As it gets really dry, “it kind of tightens up,” Kessler explained.

The dry ground puts a good amount of torque, or pressure, on the underground pipes.

The conditions pose a headache for the local officials responsible for the operations of water infrastructure.

“We don’t like it freezing and we don’t like it real dry,” Kessler said.

It doesn’t help that parts of Western New York are home to crumbling, century-old water infrastructure.

Early Monday afternoon, another water main broke in Amherst.

The latest break happened in the area of Sheridan Drive and Harlem Road, according to Amherst police.

The department tweeted about the break at about 12:45 p.m.

Sheridan Drive was closed between the Interstate-290 and Sunrise Boulevard but reopened by about 1:20 p.m.

[RELATED: 10 things you need to know about a drought]

At about 1:15 p.m., the leak – which was spraying more than 10 feet in the air – had been contained, the Erie County Water Authority tweeted.

Two of 11 breaks reported Sunday by the Erie County Water Authority happened in Amherst.

And of course there was last Wednesday’s big one that led to a boil-water advisory for a quarter-million people in northern Erie County.


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