Missouri, Illinois utility companies staying busy with heat-related problems


by Jasmine Huda / News 4


Posted on July 5, 2012 at 4:24 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 5 at 5:21 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- From water main breaks to power outages, it’s clear the heat wave in the St. Louis is taking its toll on utilities.

Multiple companies in the area are forced to keep up with a system that is under stress. And to make matters more complicated, the malfunctions with infrastructure are unplanned and unpredictable

Water main breaks in particular are a common occurrence as of late.

The latest happened on Wednesday when 12-inch main burst and flooded Kingshighway and the sub-basement of Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

It’s a problem that water companies typically see more of in the extreme cold.

“But in summertime when it’s hot and dry like it is now, we can have a lot of breaks,” said Curtis Skouby with the St. Louis City Water Department.

Skouby said they are getting more breaks than usual, though.

“(Wednesday) we had six main breaks called in, where typically we might have one, two,” he said.

Power outages are also another problem being caused by the outages. The St. Louis area has seen thousands of customers without power on both sides of the river in the past week.

In Collinsville, 4,000 customers were without power June 28 when temperatures shot above the 100-degree mark.

That heat creates higher demand, which potentially could put a strain on service.

But Victoria Busch with Ameren Illinois said outages that we experienced is not the result of any overloading problem or problem of wear and tear on the system.

Instead, she says the outages are a coincidence.

But even if the outages aren’t heat related, should customers be confident in their service?

“I think so, we’re set up to respond to these events,” said Skouby. “And we do. There might be a short-term outage for a local group of people, but then we’re there to restore them.”

Ameren Illinois had a similar response, saying it’s prepared to provide backup equipment when needed.

It reminds customers to have an emergency plan now - just as they would for storms - if power goes out.