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Many Minneapolis water pipes nearly 100 years old

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The Star Tribune reports that the city of Minneapolis has about a thousand miles of water pipes, and most are getting to be a century old.

On Tuesday, a downtown pipe that dates to 1889 ruptured and sent 90,000 gallons of water spewing into the streets by Target Center, temporarily closing the facility and several businesses. The break opened up a sinkhole on 2nd Avenue N. between 6th and 7th streets.

It was the second high-profile water main break downtown this year, following a break in early January that sent 14 million gallons of water pouring into the frozen streets. That cost the city at least $325,000.

But a pipe's age is not necessarily reason for concern – the soil that a pipe rests in is a more telling factor when it comes to pipe failure, city officials tell the Star Tribune. Most pipes are made of cast iron, and grainy soil is better than clay, officials say.

Minneapolis typically has about 40 water main breaks a year and St. Paul has averaged 140 to 150 in the past two decades, the Star Tribune reports. St. Paul officials in February said a broken water main sent 1.75 million gallons of water into downtown streets.

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