In this week’s news briefs, due to a rash of water main breaks, a city in Kansas discovers 13 miles of pipeline that had been improperly installed in the 1990s, and a large sewer project in Omaha, Nebraska, can resume after a 14-month hiatus now that a stuck tunnel-boring machine has finally been freed


Officials in Lawrence, Kansas, discovered that 13 miles of pipeline had been improperly installed after being inundated with 22 water main breaks over a three-week period.

“It was pretty extensive relative to what we usually do because we were running multiple crews,” Director of Utilities Dave Wagner told the Lawrence Journal-World. “Basically running a 24-hour operation on line repair for a week, and we don’t normally have to do that.”

Most of the breaks occurred in pipe that wasn’t all that old, according to Wagner, and when crews pulled it from the ground, it was in far worse shape than expected. Wagner says the pipe was installed in the 1990s without the protection needed to account for soil conditions. There is a total of 13 miles of pipeline that was installed that way.

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“Right now, it’s giving indication that we’ve got to adjust our life expectancy,” Wagner told the Lawrence Journal-World. “That 13 miles of pipe, it’s probably not going to last that long.”

Wagner says rate models and replacement plans will likely be adjusted based on what is learned through further investigations into the condition of the pipe.

“This is a classic example of why you have to do things right the first time, and sometimes doing them right is more expensive than doing them the quick, cheap way,” City Commissioner Matthew Herbert says. “Had we wrapped those pipes in the 1990s, we wouldn’t have a problem today.”

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Source: Lawrence Journal-World

Eclipse’s Effect on Solar Energy Causes Utility to Temporarily Power Down
The city of San Luis Obispo, California, powered down two pump stations and equipment at its water and wastewater treatment facilities that wasn’t necessary for operations during Monday’s solar eclipse. It was part of the city’s effort to cut down on emissions while it was losing out on solar energy.

“City council has made climate action a major city goal with an overall effort of reducing greenhouse gas emissions community wide,” city spokesperson Marcus Carloni told KEYT 3.

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State officials estimated that at the maximum eclipse there was a 5,611 megawatt drop, forcing more natural gas power plants to compensate for the power loss.

The actions taken by San Luis Obispo’s water and wastewater utilities were among several steps taken citywide to ease the energy burden during the eclipse.

Source: KEYT 3

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City Completes Lead Line Replacement Project
Sioux Falls, South Dakota, has completed its two-year push to rid its distribution system of lead.

Officials had a ceremony Tuesday prior to work starting on the replacement of the final lead line, according to a report in the Argus Leader. The city had never tested above the EPA’s action level for lead and had been gradually replacing such lines over the years, but in 2016, when the crisis in Flint, Michigan, brought the issue to the forefront, Sioux Falls made a concerted effort to finish the project.

An audit revealed that 230 lead lines still existed in the system, and 170 of them were replaced last year. Now all of the work is complete.

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Source: Argus Leader

Long-Delayed Sewer Project Resumes in Omaha
A delay of more than a year on a sewer project in Omaha, Nebraska, is over after workers finally freed a large tunnel-boring machine that had gotten stuck.

The 70,000-pound cutting head of the machine was hoisted by a crane out of an 80-foot-deep shaft last week, officially ending a 14-month construction delay.

“After 14 months, we’re all pretty excited to get it out,” HDR construction manager Steve Marks told the Omaha World-Herald.

The machine had been boring through limestone bedrock last year when it ran into an unanticipated seam of watery gravel and boulders. It not only stopped the machine, which was not built to take on such material, but also endangered workers because it threatened to flood the tunnel with water.

After considering several options, crews dug a separate shaft at the far end of the tunnel route and used a boring machine that could be operated remotely and handle the gravel and boulders. A rescue shaft was also built near the stuck machine and concrete was pumped down it to allow the machine to safely chew through it and reach the shaft. Then crews hoisted the machine out in three pieces.

Now crews are able to install 3,500 feet of 48-inch-diameter pipe that’s part of Omaha’s 15-year, $2 billion sewer overhaul effort.

Source: Omaha World-Herald


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