Report: Aging infrastructure, heat to blame for Martinez water main breaks

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There have been six water main breaks in the last week in Martinez, giving residents a headache.

Reports say the aging infrastructure combined with heat may be to blame.

On Tuesday afternoon, a pipe burst flooded the streets of Shell Avenue and Orange Street.

Public works crews call the summer time leak season because the soil shrivels up in the heat, making the aging pipes more vulnerable to breaking.

Martinez residents were startled by a loud boom at around 1:45 p.m. when a water main pipe burst on the corner of Shell and Orange on Tuesday. 

“We weren’t expecting it,” neighbor Debbie Young said. “We were watching TV and enjoying a nice day and all of a sudden bang–we heard the bang.”

The 6-inch cast iron water main broke, flooding the street and the front yards of several homes. 

“My driveway was completely blocked,” resident Crystal Russian said. “They had to move the cones to let me in. My driveway was completely flooded and there’s no street parking.”

Public works crews lowered the pressure but kept the water on as they repaired the pipe that they estimate dates back to the 1950s.

Long-time residents claim this is the third time they’ve seen the same pipe burst. A public works supervisor says it’s at the top of a high priority list to be replaced. 

This is the sixth water main break in the last seven days in Martinez.

The public works department has a four-man crew tending to 10,000 watersheds in the area.  The water was back to full pressure by 5 p.m. Tuesday.

​​​​​​A public works supervisor says they are in the tail end of a $4 million water main upgrade for the year and will have to check how much funding is left for a replacement.

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