CLEVELAND -- What makes a water line break a priority? It's a question we heard from dozens of you.
Water officials say when a break, like the one at East 105th and Frank continues for more than a week, there's good reason.
Cleveland Water says it must fix more than 2,400 line breaks a year, including more than 1,300 water main breaks along 4,800 miles of main in its district.
The valve line at East 105th and Frank has been running water since Oct. 28.
People who live and work in the neighborhood near the Cleveland Clinic have called it in and called us, too. Cleveland Water tells Channel 3 News: It's on the list.
"Everyone that has a water main leak in front of their house or near their house, it's the most important thing in the world. And we get that. One-hundred percent. But we have to take them by priority," said Interim Chief of Distribution Kim Thompson.
Some water issues are more pressing than others for the department. The determination starts with an investigator responding to the scene 24 hours a day, right after a call comes in. For that, they rely on you.
"We need the customers, more than anything, to let us know when they see them," he said. "I think the hardest thing for us is at times when we get a call and say it's been running for three days, it never came to us. We need to know right away, but they are investigated and there's a prioritization system that we use."
"We need to look at this and have somebody with trained eyes say what this is," said Thompson.
Investigators report their findings to dispatchers at the Cleveland Division of Water Distribution and Maintenance.
Taking into account factors like the amount of water being spilt, service interruptions and street closures, leaks are ranked.
Breaks like the one at East 105th and Frank, a priority three, can be put off while higher priority water main breaks are addressed first. On an average week, the department could see 20 main breaks. On a record, likely winter week, it could be 100.
Thompson oversees distribution for 77 communities.
"How important is it that you are as efficient as you can be?" asked our Sara Shookman.
"Well very. I think the attitude five years ago -- do more with less -- really resonates through what we do," said Thompson."
Thompson says frozen ground causes a peak in problems in wintry weather that's just around the corner. They'll use contractual assistance for 10 to 20 jobs each week to keep up with increasing demand for just 27 crews.
It typically takes an entire eight-hour shift to safely complete a water main repair.