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Cold snaps put freeze
on water main project
McDonough Street traffic shift expected to start this week

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Cold temperatures have caused some delay in the Clayton County Water Authority's effort to clean and line aging water pipes in downtown Jonesboro.

While a few days behind schedule, the biggest task of the project -- cleaning and lining 4,300 feet of pipe under McDonough Street -- will start later this week, if the weather cooperates.

Because of freezing, and near-freezing, temperatures this month, bypass tubes used to divert water away from mains being cleaned were disconnected to avoid freezing, said Suzanne Brown, water authority public information officer.

"There's a greater risk of those freezing because they are not buried in the earth," Brown said. "Two weekends ago, when the temperature dropped so low, they had to take the bypasses out of service, and then put the mains back in, which definitely puts us behind a bit."

Elsewhere, the water authority is finishing up work on Watterson Street, the first phase of a three-phase project. Phase one included cleaning and lining water mains along Johnson, Irvin and Watterson streets, said Matt Bilz, the authority's water distribution manager.

"We're 30 percent done right now," Bilz said. "We had that little cold spell and we were worried ... in general, everything is working out very well."

Bilz said the water authority expects to start work on McDonough Street "by Wednesday or Thursday." The McDonough Street phase, the second and longest phase of the project, will divert traffic on the street to southbound only, from 7:30 a.m., to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, for three weeks, he said.

Last year, the water authority completed similar work along Main Street and Mill Street in Jonesboro, and discovered piping dating back to the 1920, according to Bilz.

Iron and manganese, naturally occurring minerals found in the water supply, cling to the metal pipes, creating deposits, and can back up water flows, Bilz said. To solve the problem at a lower cost than replacing the pipe, the water mains were cleaned, using large steel scrappers, and then lined with cement. Bilz said the water authority will use the same method along McDonough Street.

"Until we put a lining in the pipe, it's just going to keep building up ... it would clog up the pipes so bad that hardly any water could come through," he said. "We're putting up a barrier between those minerals and our water.

"McDonough Street is going to take a little bit longer," he said. "It will take every bit of three weeks to finish. We're probably going to run into a few traffic issues, because our mains [are] in the north and southbound lanes. We are going to have to be creative as far as diverting traffic flow."

Bilz said after the McDonough Street phase of the project, the authority will begin cleaning and lining pipe along Jonesboro Road, between Highway 138 and North Main Street. The entire project should be finished in six weeks, he said.