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Kansas City working to get aging water mains fixed, replaced before they break

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Some of Kansas City's water infrastructure is more than 100 years old. The aging system means the city averages about 800 breaks a year.

But KC Water's goal is to get ahead of water main breaks before they occur.

"The goal is 1 percent a year," said Aaron Balliet, KC Water's utility repairs manager, "which is about 28 miles a year."

Balliet said the department spends about $30 million a year on the repairs and replacement of water mains. His department collects data on the mains, and passes it off to Matt Bond, KC Water's engineering officer.

"We look at that data, and we`re trying to develop an understanding of the condition of that pipe and look at the probability of that pipe failing and the consequence of that pipe failing," Bond said.

KC Water said it can't replace all the old pipes in the system at once because it would be too expensive at a cost of about $300 million. The aging infrastructure is frustrating to some customers.

In 2014, KC Water replaced the water main on Charlotte Street in front of the Annointed Church of Glory, where Darwin Neal is a pastor. There were five breaks on the block before the replacement.

"It was like a river, and I got my bill, and it was over $2,000," Neal said.

Neal was billed for the water spill because the water came from pipes on his property. KC Water said that's standard.

"If it's on the consumer's side, it is their responsibility to take care of it and pay for it," Balliet said. "If it's in our side, we obviously near that cost to take care of it."

If there`s a water main break near you, call 311 to report it to KC Water.