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Utility Department: Columbus is Prepared for Next Arctic Blast

COLUMBUS (Andrew Michael/Kate Liebers) -- Another arctic blast could mean more water main breaks, but Columbus officials said they are ready.

The forecast comes two weeks after the polar vortex caused 50 active water main breaks. One 24-inch break created a flood in the intersection of N. 4th and Gay streets in downtown Columbus.

Now, George Zonders of Columbus Public Utilities said the situation is "fairly under control." As of Tuesday, Columbus is down to 35 water main breaks -- a manageable number, Zonders said.

"We have our crews on the job, doing some weekend work," he said. "And we activated our agreements with some of the private contractors, who are assisting." 

The breaks aren't unique to winter weather, Zonders said.

"You tend see them some with the freeze and thaw, the shifting of the ground that occurs with that, but we also see them in the summer too," he said.

When a water main breaks, the big delay in repair is making sure there are no gas lines or cable lines before crews can start excavating. The repair itself usually takes no more than a few hours.

Anyone who sees flooding where there is not a posted sign acknowledging a water main break is asked to call 311.

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