(KMOV) -- Aging pipes under the stress of hot weather lead to an unusual pair of water main breaks across the St. Louis area.
Drivers heading west on I-70 in St. Louis Wednesday afternoon were backed up for miles starting at Jennings Station Road.
Road crews tore out pavement and filled the void left when the earth was washed by a water main that burst under the interstate.
A similar situation happened Monday night at Interstate 270 and Old Halls Ferry Rd.
Missouri American Water Communications Manager Ann Dettmer said pipes don’t often bust under interstates because they rarely run under major roadways.
In the two cases this week, Dettmer said the cast iron pipes that burst were more than 50 years old. Their life expectancy, she said is between 50 and 100 years. The mains are more likely to burst when the temperature spikes.
“This is a high demand period, there’s a lot of pressure in those pipes, the ground is dry,” said Dettmer.
Missouri American Water has been working on identifying pipes that could soon break, and replacing them before they do. Dettmer said the utility spent $40 million last year on those projects, where priority is placed on replacing pipes near buildings such as hospitals.
“It’s a huge project. We’ve replaced about 200 miles of pipe since 2003,” says Dettmer.
For efficiency, Dettmer said Missouri American Water will replace problem pipes when other crews are working the same area.