This frigid week has resulted in four (4) water main breaks in downtown Nashville. There have been 50 across the county according to the Tennessean. WSMV tells us an event had to be moved from downtown because of flooding and sidewalk buckling. Dozens of downtown businesses were shuttered due to lack of water and electricity. The Hilton Hotel was without power also. Fox17 has the best pictures and quote "Tourists were turned away."
One station reports that this hasn't been this bad in 20 years. That's not really that long a period of time and our mains are only getting older. We cannot ignore the fact that our water mains are old and need to be repaired. No one really wants our infrastructure crews out in frigid weather which only compounds already dangerous and expensive work.
A conversation with an emergency worker causes me to ask why a billion dollars will be committed for the Music City Center when there may not be adequate water service for emergency services once it's built. And no one can sell a convention center if the big gamble will be if we can provide essential services reliably. What's the good of having a brand spanking new facility if we cannot fight a fire in the facility because our water delivery system is too old? What sort of liability will Nashville be put in when we chose to invite people here and failed to be good stewards of the water system to ensure they were safe? If we don't want to bite the bullet now and really fix things... when will we? And if there is no better time to build a convention center because borrowing and labor is relatively cheap why isn't this the best time to invest in our city's essential services instead?
UPDATE: A 5th main breaks downtown per NewsChannel 5.
"Things that have been frozen start to thaw out and shift again," said Sonia Harvat [Metro Water spokesman]. "You know, the water temperature is still very cold so we do expect to start to realize a lot more breaks as the temperatures rise."(Emphasis added.)
UPDATE II: Does Nashville still have any of those wooden pipes carrying water?