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Rash Of Bloomington Water Main Breaks Could Be Blamed On Computer Issue

Google Maps water treatment plant

The Monroe Water Treatment Plant surveys hundreds of miles of water main supply in the region. (Google Maps)

The City of Bloomington said a dozen water main breaks in late February could have been caused in part by issues with a computer system at the Monroe Water Treatment Plant.

During a five-day period between Feb. 20-25, City of Bloomington Utilities (CBU) crews were called on to repair 12 water main breaks.

"While it is typical to see an increase during winter months, this number of breaks in a short time frame is unusual. CBU has determined that a technical issue with the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) may have been a factor," CBU said in a press release.

SCADA is a computer system at the Monroe Water Treatment Plant that is used by operators to monitor all 420 miles of water mains in the area that CBU supplies.

According to CBU, "the SCADA system was incorrectly communicating between the plant and one of the booster stations, which prompted a plant employee to accidentally activate too many pumps at once."

The city said this may have resulted in what is called "water hammer." This is when the pressure in the pipe can rise and fall very rapidly over a short period of time.

"For the SCADA issue, a repair is complete, and a new standard operating procedure is in place to help prevent a recurrence," CBU said.

READ MORE: Bloomington City Council Approves 18% Water Rate Increase Starting In 2022

Utilities director Vic Kelson spoke on the issue during Wednesday’s city council meeting. He said money generated from raising water rates will be funneled toward replacing several miles of outdated water mains in the future.

CBU is urging the public to report any activity that looks like a water main break to its 24-hour hotline at (812)339-1444. Data on water main breaks can also be found online at CBU’s website.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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