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Winter water main breaks put a freeze on Kalamazoo businesses

Crews work on a water main break in Kalamazoo on Jan. 20, 2019 (Matt Loughrin/WWMT)

For the fifth time in a month, crews in Kalamazoo spent the day working to repair a broken water main.

The break happened at around 6 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 20, and closed down part of West Main Street from Drake Road to Piccadilly Road.

The break is the second in the same area around West Main Street.

The rest have been spread throughout Kalamazoo, including a break on Homecrest Avenue on Jan. 6, another on Fenimore Avenue Jan. 7 and one on Burdick Street Saturday.

Michael Adams is general manager of Coney Island Hot Dogs, one of four businesses impacted by Sunday’s break.

“We're probably going to lose $300, $400, that day from not having the water there,” Adams said.

He said the restaurant will be unable to sell fountain drinks until the boil water order is lifted, which could cut sharply into revenue.

“That's the kind of thing that it kind of affects you all year really because you can't make it up,” he said. “It's like lost sleep. Once you lose it, you can't make it up.”

Such water main breaks are a consistent issue in Kalamazoo throughout the winter months, when temperatures often drop well below freezing.

During Jan. 2018, the city dealt with another five water main breaks, crediting them to the cold weather.

City officials say when the ground freezes, it can strain the pipes.

Adams said because the city often deals with broken water mains, he would expect it to be more efficient about communicating with impacted businesses. Still, he said Newschannel 3’s call was the first he heard of the break.

“When you do small business in a community it’s all about that relationship with the customer, so you'd expect the same from the city with the businesses that they're affecting when they have to take care of things that happen,” Adams said.

Newschannel 3 reached out to officials with the City of Kalamazoo about the water main breaks but did not receive a response Sunday night.

There was no official word Sunday on when the water main break will be repaired, but, according to a release from the city, similar situations are usually resolved within 48-72 hours.

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