Within the last year, Platte Canyon Water & Sanitation District has experienced several significant water main breaks, leaving many residents without water for several hours and causing significant damage to the street. The most recent break (pictured above) occurred on July 1st on West Alder Way, resulting in 14 residents having their water shutoff for almost an entire day. The estimated cost to repair this break, including repaving the street and restoring impacted private property, is almost $50,000. Unfortunately, these breaks are a continuation of the pattern the District has observed over the last decade.
The District has over 76 miles of water mains in the drinking water distribution system ranging in diameter from 4” to 18”. Within this system is a substantial amount of cast iron pipe, which fails regularly and results in unplanned outages, property damage, and emergency repair costs. The majority of the breaks that have occurred in the last decade happen on cast iron water mains.
Each year the District updates its 10-Year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to prioritize the replacement of water mains. While the District has replaced a number of failing cast iron pipes over the past 20 years, the current CIP accelerates the rate of water main replacement to the industry standard, which is 1% of the total system length per year.
The District’s Board of Directors believes this new approach to the CIP provides significant benefit to district customers. In order to fully fund the planned water main replacement projects, the Board is considering the adoption of a monthly fee of $5.00 per household, which would be added to the water bill currently sent by Denver Water. A public hearing is scheduled for Friday, August 23, 2019 at 8:30am (during the regular District board meeting) to discuss the implementation of a fee to assist in the funding of the much-needed water main replacements.
Fully funding the 10-Year CIP allows the District to be proactive rather than reactive when dealing with water main replacements, as projects are prioritized so water mains most in need of repair are replaced in a timely manner. It will also lead to reduced operation and repair expenses by avoiding costly unscheduled repairs and replacements of deteriorating water mains. For example, in 2018 the District spent approximately $240,000 on emergency water main repairs, which is an expenditure we are trying to minimize in the coming years. Most importantly, the accelerated water main replacement program helps avoid unplanned water shutoffs in your neighborhood and reduces the potential for public safety, public health and property damage impacts.
Should you have any questions about this approach, please contact the District’s Assistant Manager, Cynthia Lane, at email@example.com.