Aging water lines are a problem for Tucson Water. They often break causing big headaches.
But what happens when lines that are relatively new break. Solving that problem goes from headache to migraine.
A 24 inch line broke in front of Miller Elementary School at Camino de la Tierra and Avenida de Isabel. Because it was not a service line, homeowners and the school were not affected. Everyone still has water flowing into their homes.
But the biggest problem is trying to determine what a line that was installed in 1981 sprung a leak. A cast iron pipe like that should last 50 to 80 years at least. Turns out soil corrosion might have caused the line to fail. It could also be an electrochemical phenomenon.
What is known, there are some very large holes on the bottom of an eight foot section taken out of the ground.
An inspection of other pipes leading into homes in the area also showed the same type of corrosion.
The city will use camera’s to try to determine just how much of the pipe needs to be replaced. It will send a camera several hundred feet in both directions to see if corrosion may have weakened other parts as well.
So what started out to be a routine repair job may be long and complicated. The Water Department has identified $131 million in water line repairs that need to be done.
In the meantime, the water department had an early warning system in place which sends out alerts when a line is deteriorating.
The system worked a few weeks ago when workers were alerted to a weakening 42 inch line on Columbus Avenue and Grant.
It would have been a catastrophic event had it burst.
Workers are now repairing damage to the line.