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Tampa water main breaks expected to be more frequent as pipes age

Posted at 5:44 PM, Mar 01, 2019

TAMPA, Fla. — Water main breaks in Tampa have increased in recent years, and city water officials say it's only going to get worse.

“I was standing there and all of the sudden there was a lot of water. I mean, a lot of water,” said homeowner Tony Gonzalez.

You could see the Tampa water main break gushing for hours right in front of Tony Gonzalez’s home.

“Like a river coming down!” said Gonzalez.

A river that flowed into his home on North Rome Street that he says left three inches of water inside back in June 2018.

“I said, I’m going to get my pole and start fishing,” said Gonzalez.

The Tampa homeowner has a sense of humor.

But his attorney says he can’t afford repairs to flooring, cabinets, or to clean up mold he says bothers his breathing.

“Having a cold all the time, you know,” said Gonzalez.

In February, another major water main break on Brorein Street snarled downtown Tampa traffic shut down the Brorein Street Bridge.

City water officials say water main breaks have doubled in the past three years and are expected to only get worse because some aging cast iron pipes are already 80 years old.

“It is going to take a mammoth effort to get this done and start getting on top of it but I tell you if we delay it any further, the effort gets harder and harder with each year,” said City of Tampa’s Brad Baird.

Wastewater officials estimate it will take billions and decades to replace 23 hundred miles of pipes underneath our city.

Pipes easy to forget about until they burst and flood your living room.

“That’s Tampa. Either you live with it or you leave,” said Gonzalez.