Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cleaning Pipes from Downtown to the Fan

Richmond has one of the first modern water distribution systems in America, and hundreds of miles of those original mains are still in service. With pipes and infrastructure dating back to the early 1800s, clogging and corrosion is a real probability.

About half of the city’s 1,100 miles of water mains were installed prior to 1945 and are made of cast or ductile iron. Back then, utility planners didn’t know iron is far more susceptible to mineral deposits, called tubercules. Gradual buildup of rust, calcium and other materials can have a negative effect on water color, quality, pressure, main capacity, presence of bacteria and fire protection.

In 1983, Richmond began an aggressive cleaning and lining program. Tubercules and solid accumulations were cleaned out and the pipes lined with cement mortar, which prevents additional corrosion. The result is less expensive than completely replacing existing pipe and improves water quality and flow.

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