@CSUtilities working to update water supply system. It will take 250 years at current funding level.

Water infrastructure as sidewalk art
Water infrastructure as sidewalk art

From KKTV.com (Dustin Cuzick):

Colorado Springs Utilities Officials respond to claims that water main breaks and sinkholes are becoming more common. They say they’re spending $13 million per-year to fix it.

When a huge sinkhole opened up in the middle of Montebello Drive on Sunday after a water main break, neighbors complained that it was the third in about the last year…

Colorado Springs Utilities officials admit there is a problem. They say that roughly 60% of the city’s 2000 miles of water pipes are at or near the end of their lifespan; many of them are cast-iron and were put in in the 1970’s.

That is why in 2005 they started a water main replacement project; a systematic plan to proactively replace aging water mains before they deteriorate completely.

Right now Colorado Springs Utilities spends $13 million on the program every year. With that money they are able to replace about 8-12 miles of pipeline. That would mean that to replace the entire system could take up to 250 years at the current pace…

Utilities officials say they are planning on asking for a utilities rate increase for the 2017 budget. They will present that proposed increase this fall to the utilities board and the Colorado Springs City Council.

That rate increase would not mean an increase in the program’s budget, officials say the increase would be needed just to maintain the current $13 million budget.

There is no word yet on how much that increase will be because C.S.U. is waiting for the results of a cost of service survey. Those results are expected to be in on Friday.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Ellie Mulder):

About 4 percent of Colorado Springs’ water distribution pipes are more than 100 years old, but it’s the mid-century pipes that are causing problems around the city.

Cast- and ductile-iron pipes installed during the 1950s through the 1970s break more easily than older pipes because they have thinner walls and are more prone to corrosion, said Steve Berry, Colorado Springs Utilities spokesman.

Utilities is continually replacing as many of the problem pipes as possible…

Although crews try to “identify and prioritize areas that need attention,” Berry said, there is no way to track the city’s more than 2,000 miles of pipe. Over the past 20 years, national data has shown that these pipes have a higher failure rate, Berry said. Utilities has budgeted $13 million to upgrade water mains this year.

“It’s not an exact science, especially when you’re dealing with a system that’s as large as ours, and as spread out,” he said.

Repairs are not always straightforward, Berry said.

Simply shutting the water off is “much more complicated than it’s assumed,” he said. Then crews excavate the asphalt and assess the pipe’s condition. After it’s repaired or replaced, the line needs to be re-energized and re-pressurized, which occasionally causes a nearby segment to break.

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