Another water main break is being addressed by the city of Roswell and J&H Services, Inc.
City Engineer Louis Najar explained the waterline break at the intersection of South Main and Hobbs streets happened the morning of March 5, after icy weather on March 4. Najar said the city “can’t turn off the large diameters because the valves are broken” at this time. He said the problems are similar to West Gayle Street and other places where water lines have broken.
“This is the victim of the last freeze,” Najar said. “And people think that with the freeze being over, that we’re done. The next problem that we have as it starts getting hotter, more people want water, so demand and the volume in the pipes increases the pressure. Summertime we have problems due to the demand of the water and how much water we’re pumping …”
This winter alone Najar said, waterline breaks have cost approximately $2.5 million in repairs. For winter, in particular, Najar said the problems are due to the aged infrastructure, changing temperatures, frost and defrosting causing movement in the ground.
The price tag for the most recent repair is $680,000 and is coming out of the water maintenance transmission fund, since the city put a hold on the $3 million Country Club Reservoirs rehabilitation project to use funding for water main breaks. Najar said the city is attempting to maintain the water infrastructure despite the issues and is “fortunate” to have a budget to support the recently needed fixes.
Najar said the issue at hand is a problem not with the large diameter pipe, but rather the smaller pipes feeding off the large pipe with “rotting” steel fittings. The next valves at Poe and South Main streets are expected to have issues and are on the city’s to-do list.
There are two parallel water lines with a connection, a 24-inch line from 1968, a 42-inch line installed in 1978, and a 20-inch valve “that won’t shut off,” Najar said. He estimates the work will take a couple of weeks, but is contingent on when parts come in.
He said the 42- and 24-inch parts have been ordered and the estimated wait time is about eight weeks. After the parts arrive, it will take two weeks to install.
To fix this area, Najar listed that two double line stops, three large diameter valves and some other incidental work will need to be done. He said one of the line stops will be installed near the sidewalk across from the closed K-Mart parking lot. The first step is to cut off water, repair connections and put in new connections and new valves.
Right now, Najar said J&H Services, Inc., the only contractor in the state capable of doing this work on larger sized waterlines, is measuring the pipes for the right fittings. He said the contractor is also waiting on parts for similar issues in Clovis, Hobbs and Albuquerque. It is “safe to say” infrastructure is aged nationwide and should be a priority to invest and maintain infrastructure, Najar said.
For public awareness on the waterline issues, Najar said an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” mentality can’t be sustained.
“The (smart) water meter project has been successful and so we are making a little extra money,” Najar said. “As the director of infrastructure, my concern is that extra water revenue should be put back into the system, or most of it should be put back into the system because these problems are going to only escalate. It’s not getting any younger.
“I can say just because the winter is over, that doesn’t mean anything. As soon as it starts warming up, when we start having large demands and everybody’s running their sprinklers — that causes a different set of problems and causes more breaks.”
City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.