Water Main Breaks Proving to be Costly in Ashland, Ky.

ASHLAND, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Ashland's water problems may be slowly winding down, but the long-term impact is becoming more clear.

City officials said this winter has packed a real punch, with water main breaks up 222 percent in the past few weeks. Repairs haven't been cheap.

Ashland city crews repaired another water main break Monday.

It's an all-too-familiar scene; just ask Ryan Eastwood, the city's engineering director.

"We had probably about 58 water breaks. This time of year, we would expect to have about 20," Eastwood said.

A few weeks ago, people in Ashland faced water shortages as crews battled break after break.

City leaders said that's all because of temperatures that plummet and rise, and do it all over again.

"We see the frequency increases this time of year. It's just nature of the business, but not this much," Eastwood said.

Mayor Chuck Charles said at that time, the city spent $110,000 on bottled water alone.

"I don't ever recall having this much of a problem, especially with the water system," Charles said.

City engineers said the water repair costs aren't any cheaper.

Eastwood said a normal winter means about $50,000 in repairs, but not this year.

"Over a three- or four-week period, we've been into about $250,000 dollars in repairs," Eastwood said.

He said increasing costs and a shortage of manpower means some less severe breaks have to wait.

"We end up doing more reactive repairs than preventative maintenance," he said.

But Eastwood hopes that with spring just around the corner, these problems will take a break of their own.

City leaders said the water infrastructure is in good condition.

Directors said the problems they've seen this winter were both in older parts and newer parts of the system, all driven by weather.

Ashland city leaders also said this winter is the first time in many years that they've had to hire outside contractors to help with repairs.

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