One project is under way and another will soon be in the planning stages at the Roanoke Rapids Sanitary District in Roanoke Rapids, N.C. The project under way is a sewer line rehabilitation project, CEO Dan Brown said Friday, and the RRSD will soon be working on a master plan to remove, replace or reline water lines, according to the Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald.

As far as what led to the water line rehabilitation, Brown said. “It’s something that’s been in the back of our minds the last couple of years,” he said. “It came to a head when we had 40 breaks in November and we decided it was time to get busy with the system. Money is going to be a guiding factor on how much we get done. It will be done over several years in phases.”

It will also take time developing the master plan, Brown said, estimating it will take until the end of next year to complete it. “We’ll be assessing lines, material, using historical records of past problems and try to prioritize that based on need.”

Brown anticipates when it is time to begin work, it most likely will start in the oldest sections of the city, from Kapstone to South Rosemary and from Rapids to Marshall streets.

The RRSD maintains some 130 miles of water lines. “We reasonably could expect to rehab a third of that. That could be way high or way low. It could be 25 to 30 percent,” he said.

Brown said some of the pipes are 100 years old and still carry water. “It’s been a pretty heavy year for water line breaks. It’s a combination of aging infrastructure and cold weather could cause them to contract and break.”

There have been at least seven breaks so far this year while last month there were 15 to 20, Brown said, “In some instances pressure on the pipes contributes as well.”

Brown credits the work of employees for getting to the breaks and fixing them. “As well you can imagine it’s a difficult type of work in cold, wet conditions. Add wind to it and you have a harsh work environment. You have to admire the work ethic going out in those conditions … We’re very fortunate for their dedication to get the work done under those conditions. It’s tantamount to what a firefighter faces.”

Meanwhile, the RRSD continues to work on sewer line rehab, Brown said. “We’ve been working on the sewer system for several years, doing rehab and finding and fixing problems that have led to big spills.”

The RRSD has completed work on two of nine basins. “We’re fixing all the high priority stuff. We’re going through lines and doing some replacement,” Brown said. “We’ve replaced the Chockoyotte outfall.

We’ve performed pipe bursting on some sections of the lines where we burst the old pipe and dragged the new one in. You’re left with a seamless lined pipe and it’s a stout pipe.”

From 2001 to 2007 the RRSD has spent approximately $2.8 million on the sewer line rehab and Brown estimates it will spend $22,900,000 over the next 20 years. “That’s more than a million dollars per year,” he said. “We’re a long way out, there’s much to be done.”

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