By Joel Hall
Toward the end of this week or early next week, the Clayton County Water Authority (CCWA) will resume work on its Water Main Rehabilitation Project in Forest Park and Jonesboro.
The purpose of the seven-year-old project is to clean and extend the life of outdated water pipes installed in the 1950s.
Corrective work will take place on Lloyd Drive, North and South Parkwood Drive, Curtis Drive, Pine Drive, Ridge Drive, and Whitley Drive in Forest Park. Also, there will be repairs on Fifth Avenue, Scarlett Drive, Cloud Street, and College Street, in Jonesboro.
Older iron pipes lack a cement inner lining which inhibits the formation of iron and manganese deposits caused by water flow. Deposits can occasionally dislodge, lowering overall water pressure and giving water a brown or reddish tint. Rather than replacing the pipes completely, the CCWA will clean the pipes using special drill-like equipment and coat the inside of the pipes with a thin layer of cement. The less-invasive process will likely save the county thousands of dollars, while keeping disturbance of the land to a minimum, according to Herbert Etheridge, CCWA's maintenance and construction manager.
"Replacement is costing us somewhere around $55 a foot, rather than $22 for cleaning and lining," said Etheridge. He said by physically replacing old pipe, "you are basically beating up every yard and sidewalk around the water line."
Etheridge said the project began shortly after the CCWA purchased the City of Forest Park's water system in 1994. Before the purchase, Forest Park was pumping in water from the City of Atlanta and using Forest Park's dated water main system to distribute it.
"We had issues with discoloration and discovered through some old system maps that we had a lot of unlined pipe," installed in the 1950s, said Etheridge. While the discolored water caused by deposits is harmless to drink, Etheridge said the deposits themselves pose a greater risk to fire safety.
"Once you start restricting those pipes, the ability to deliver water during a fire is severely diminished," said Etheridge. He compared the situation to clogged arteries. "When you're opening up a hydrant, you're getting 400 gallons per minute when you should be getting about 900 gallons per minute."
Etheridge said the rehabilitation project will allow the CCWA to continue delivering water that is aesthetically pleasing, while also helping to maintain fire safety.
"It's a much better alternative than digging up old pipe," said Mike Thomas, CCWA general manager. "It saves a good bit of money and you're not disturbing everybody's streets, sidewalks, and driveways. There will be people working on the side of the road, but the actual disturbance in the road will be minimal."
Etheridge said the project is expected to extend the life of the existing pipe in Forest Park and Jonesboro by 75 years. The CCWA anticipates the work in Forest Park will be completed this summer and work in Jonesboro will continue for another three to four years.