Highland News Leader

Highland project to replace 80-year-old pipes will decrease frequency of boil orders

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Here are two easy steps to follow to make sure you are boiling water correctly when you're under a boil order.

Highland officials said Monday plummeting temperatures have been the cause of three boil orders over the course of the last two months.

The boil orders, two of which were in the same service area and affected addresses on Pine and Washington streets, are unpredictable but can be somewhat expected when the weather gets cold, said City Manager Mark Latham.

“We’re sorry anytime we have a water line break but they usually happen during the wintertime when you have freezing and thawing,” Latham said.

However, in the coming years, Latham said, the city’s infrastructure project to replace aging water pipes throughout the city will significantly cut down on the frequency of line breaks.

A large portion of Highland’s lines have been in place from anywhere from 60 to 80 years. Some, even, are older, Latham said.

Those aging cast iron mains have been the primary source of recent issues. Some of which are short, two-inch lines, that are prone to breaking.

In 2017, the city had 25 water main breaks, half of which occurred on aging, but critical mains. On average, each has cost $1,500 to repair in labor and materials.

Highland workers
A Haier Heating and Plumbing crew works on a city infrastructure project on Broadway in Highland. The city hopes that the replacement of several aging water mains in the area will cut down on the number of main breaks and boil orders in the coming years. By Kavahn Mansouri

Currently, crews are working to replace three mains; a main on Broadway from Illinois 160 to Poplar Street, a main on Illinois 143 from U.S. 40 to Troxler Avenue, and the “White City” mains along Deal, Cedar, Beech and Monroe streets.

In total, the work on those mains cost the city and estimated. $1.8 million. Work is expected to be completed in the next six months, Latham said. The city has planned a water rate hike every year for the next five years to fund the projects.

According to a study, a 1.5 percent annual increase will:

▪ support $500,000 in annual debt service for water main replacements,

▪ support about $8.15 million worth of total project costs,

▪ replace 50 percent of the total replacements recommended in 2017.

Latham noted that the city, through engineering firm Hurst-Rosche, performed a study to evaluate Highland’s how best to work the aging pipes and in what order. He said while the areas where the water lines broke over the past few months aren’t being replaced right now, they will be down the line.

“There is a plan to do that,” Latham said. “So, hopefully, within the next 10 and 15 years, those all will be replaced.”

Kavahn Mansouri covers government accountability for the Belleville News-Democrat, holding officials and institutions accountable and tracking how taxpayer money is spent.
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