How do we decide which pipes to replace? Which pump station needs updating? Where are we likely to see new houses or development in the next 20 years? How much funding do we have available?
Capital Improvement Plan
All of those questions – and more – come in to play each year as we plan our work and set our budget. Some of the answers come from our Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The plan was completed over three years, and involved a consulting engineering firm to evaluate the utility’s entire system. The review looked ahead for 20 years while considering
- Evaluation and assessment of existing treatment, distribution, and storage facilities
- Existing and projected water use
- Current and potential regulatory requirements
- Water main assessment and risk analysis
The CIP recommends changes/improvements for the short, intermediate and long term; these will guide us in prioritizing and funding pipe projects, system upgrades, and other items. The goals are to:
- Ensure long-term reliability of the system
- Improve operational efficiencies to develop long-term cost savings
- Ensure optimum water quality and availability of fire protection.
Setting priorities to address infrastructure issues means more than just the age of the pipe. It also involves the history of leaks on the line, any critical facilities served by the line, the availability of funding, other planned utility work in the area, needed improvements for water quality or fire flows (such as interconnecting dead-end lines), and possible future demands.
Show me the Money
We also must weigh the financial impact of infrastructure work on our customers. If we were to replace all the outdated pipe today, the cost would be $90,000,000 (our current annual budget is $6,000,000). And that $90,000,000 only addresses water lines, not other facilities that require renewal.
There is no question that water rates have to continue to rise to address critical water needs. The good news is that our current rates are the 20th lowest of 152 Maine water utilities.
Maintaining a water system comes with challenges. Water main repairs can seem frustratingly slow. Water main replacement often means traffic disruption, noise, and dust. We make every attempt to minimize the impact on our customers, and we hope the information you find here will be helpful.
Water Main Construction:
We have a number of project currently underway, all aimed at some of our oldest infrastructure and in cooperation with the City of Bangor and/or State of Maine.
Funding for the projects includes low-interest loans and grants through the Maine Drinking Water Program as well as our designated infrastructure replacement account, funded through rates as allowed by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
|2018 Pipe Work
|State, Exchange, and French Streets
||Joint project with City sewer/storm-water work and road reconstruction.
||Replace c. 1903, 1910, 1912 pipe with 2470’ of new pipe
(Union to Cedar Street)
|Joint project with City sewer work. Area of two significant water leaks.
||Replace c. 1915 8” pipe with 1100’ of new 12” pipe
|Union Street (Hammond to West Broadway)
||Joint project with City sewer work. Area of significant water leaks.
||Replace c. 1920 6” pipe with 1700’ of new 12” pipe
(Dutton to Hampden town line)
|Improve primary feed to Hampden, and upsize for future development. Road scheduled for repaving in 2020.
||Replace c. 1910 6” and 8” pipe with 3600” of 16” pipe
Water Main Flushing: Not being done in 2018.
Every other summer, we flush all of our water mains in six towns. Opening a hydrant draws the water through the pipe at a higher-than-usual speed, allowing any sediment to be flushed away. The sediment is a corrosion byproduct associated with pipe materials (such as iron). Although the water may look discolored after we flush the lines in your area, it is always safe to use. The color will clear when the water is run for a few minutes after flushing is completed in your neighborhood.
While we are flushing, we are also inspecting the hydrants, checking the flow rates (important for fire fighting), and conducting tests in the area for any undetected leaks.
Generally, signs on sawhorses are placed a day in advance in the affected neighborhood.