Water main break exposes need for water & sewerage system overhaul

Water main break exposes need for water & sewerage system overhaul

Children at J.S. Clark Middle School spent the morning without running water, thanks to a water main break.
Shreveport city workers spent the morning making repairs after a water main break on Hearne Avenue near J.S. Clark Middle School.

All morning, students went without running water.

The director of the water and sewerage department, Barbara Featherston, says rain is to blame. The soil around the pipes expanded, and that put more pressure on the already brittle pipes.

"And what you have is the soils in the dry weather will kind of shrink up and then when you have the wet weather, they expand and it just starts pulling you know those external forces on the pipe in those areas where again, our infrastructure is aging, you will have those types of breaks," says Featherston.

Veronica Brown says she had no idea her fifth-grader was at school without water.

She wants all the pipes in the city inspected, especially near schools and hospitals.

"Things do happen, but I feel like those things should also be checked periodically,” says Brown. “Whether it's every three or four months, or whether it's every year, especially with those water mains there by important facilities such as schools and hospitals."

The good news is on Wednesday, the EPA announced the City of Shreveport will pay $342 million dollars for sewer system upgrades over the next 12 years.

This is to comply with the Clean Water Act.

The city also has to pay a $650,000 penalty for illegal discharges of raw sewage. The city hasn’t decided whether that money will come from the pockets of taxpayers or not.

Beginning in 2015, the system will see a major overhaul, starting in the Cedar Grove area.

"We're starting in the Cedar Grove basin,” says Featherston. “It's our largest basin from a pipe-length standpoint. There's a million feet of pipe in that basin. Different sizes: eight inches to forty-two inches or to forty-eight inches, I believe."

We’re told crews are already inspecting in that area to make sure breaks like the one on Hearne don't happen.
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