Each year, Des Moines Water Works experiences between 250 and 300 water main breaks. In some cases water does not even come to the surface of the ground, but in other cases main breaks can cause real problems. Large water main breaks, like those shown, are easy to find and the loss of water they cause is reflected on instrumentation at the water treatment plant. Unfortunately, however, Water Works receives no indication of smaller water main breaks other than from eye-witness reports. If you see water in the street (or spraying into the air), you can help stop the loss of water and limit the damage it causes by notifying Des Moines Water Works dispatch immediately at (515) 283‑8772.
Once a water main break is identified, water service in the area must be shut off. In emergency situation such as these, it may not be possible to notify customers of the outage in advance, and in fact, the break itself may interrupt water service before it is shut off. After the water main break is repaired, water service is restored. When the water comes back on, there will likely be air in your water service piping. It is a good idea to run the first water after an outage through a faucet that does not have an aerator screen. Bathtubs and hose bibs are good candidates. Open faucets slowly to allow the air to escape. Air will make a spurting or hissing sound as it escapes through the faucet. Once the water is flowing, allow the faucet to run for a minute or two. The first water may be cloudy due to air in the water or particles that dislodge as the pipes filled with water. This should clear fairly quickly. If water is cloudy throughout the house and it does not clear after allowing the water to run for several minutes, contact Des Moines Water Works dispatch for assistance.
If kitchen or bathroom faucets do not perform normally following a water outage, it may be necessary to remove the aerator screen. Typically the aerator can simply be unscrewed from the faucet. Inspect the screen for small particles and rinse away any you find. Reinstall the aerator and test performance of the faucet again. If you experience difficulties such as low pressure throughout the house following a water outage, call Des Moines Water Works dispatch for assistance.