Kansas City in process of replacing old pipes like one that flooded Main Street, plan to be done in 95 years

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A water main break in Kansas City's Crossroads District on Monday could demonstrate a larger problem underneath the city's streets.
The water main that sent water cascading down Main Street from 16th Street was installed in 1886.

“The streets were flooded with debris, the Streetcar was shut down, it looked like the levies had broken up the street,” Nara Manager Sean Burns-Sprung said.

“It was like a volcano had just erupted out of the middle of the street on 16th Street and there were pieces of street everywhere. It was nuts," Ryan Bailey said.

“It was just a ton of water I was just imagining how big a pipe that must have been to make that much water,” Tom's Town co-owner Steve Revare said.

KC Water blames a 10-inch water main for flooding streets in the Crossroads. That water main that gave way had been supplying water to Kansas City businesses and residents for 131 years. There were no immediate plans to replace it prior to the break.

One-hundred miles of Kansas City's water mains installed before the year 1900 are still in service today.

KC Water spokesperson Brooke Givens said the city prioritizes replacing water mains based on age, history of breaking, and potential damage to surrounding areas. It is five years in to a 100 year project to replace 2,800 miles of water mains. Los Angeles is in the midst of a similar 300-year pipe replacement program.

“It’s crazy to think about that underneath us are pipes that are hundreds of years old that are working our businesses now,” Burns-Sprung said.

The water main break left piles of pebbles on city street corners, but otherwise once the water receded damage was minimal. Repairs are underway and no businesses have been left without water.

“We’d like to think that we are safe from those kind of things happening here, for the sake of our business if we don’t have water we can’t make liquor and we can’t open our restaurant and bar either,” Revare said.