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Why All the Water Main Repairs? Utilities Crews Respond to Water Mains Stressed by Severe Cold

January 23, 2018



Severe cold and the severe drought's impact on ground temperatures have combined to make it tough on area water mains—and the City of St. Peters is not immune. Utilities Department crews have been working hard to repair a number of broken or leaking water mains throughout the community.


At the heart of the problem were the long stretches of severe cold this winter. Air temperature at or below freezing causes the ground above a water main to freeze, increasing the external stress on the pipe. Pipes become brittle if the water temperature dips below 40 degrees.


A severe drought made ground conditions worse for water mains this winter. A dry ground freezes deeper, putting more stress than normal on underground pipes.


Since the drop in water temperature lags behind air temperature changes, water main breaks may occur after a cold spell. Shifts in the weather also make matters worse—a 10-degree change in the air or water temperature can dramatically increase stress on a pipe.


St. Peters’ Utilities Department is taking a proactive approach to addressing water main leaks caused by these weather factors. Crews are working to fix leaks in a number of neighborhoods with the goal of causing minimal disruption to water service and lessening the number of major water main breaks that require emergency repairs.


During these proactive repair projects, Utilities crews close water valves to isolate a leak in order to minimize the number of customers who will experience water outages during the main repair. While crews work to isolate the leak, residents may experience a short time without water. This work to isolate leaks allow us to maintain water service to many more customers while repairs are underway.


Public notices for St. Peters’ water main repairs are posted online at and on Twitter @StPetersMo. Emergency repairs are also sent out through Nixle text and email messages. Stay connected with the City of St. Peters by subscribing to Nixle, Twitter and more at