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THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2007
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Pressure from rocks damaging water pipes in Southeast Decatur

By Catherine Godbey
cgodbey@decaturdaily.com 340-2441

Suffering from the elements, water pipes serving Southeast Decatur residents are deteriorating.

The Northeast Morgan County Water Authority installed the 1,250 feet of pipe along Alabama 67 from Indian Hills Road to Williams Lane in rocky terrain.

Decatur Utilities Interim General Manager Stan Keenum attributes the pipe's problems, which include main breaks, to the pressure from rocks surrounding the pipes.

"In dry, wet and cold weather, the ground moves and with it the rocks," Keenum said. "When the rocks move, they play havoc with the pipe."

DU plans to replace the pipes immediately because of two recent main breaks, said DU Gas, Water and Wastewater Manager Gary Borden.

When breaks occur, the pipes, which directly connect to the Burningtree water tank, threaten to deplete the tank of water.

Although never entirely drained, recent main breaks resulted in a near loss of water, Borden said. A complete loss would discontinue the flow of water to DU customers served by the Burningtree water tank.

To remedy the issue, the Municipal Utilities Board approved replacing the existing six-inch polyvinyl chloride pipes with larger eight-inch ductile iron pipes. Compared to the plastic PVC pipes, the ductile iron pipes can withstand a higher amount of pressure.

"Our current DI pipes have lasted 30, 40, 50 years," Borden said. "They cost more but are harder and not as likely to break as PVC."

The underground DI pipes will inhabit the same location as the current pipes, which run on the south side of Alabama 67.

With the board's approval, Borden anticipates beginning the three-month project next month.

In a controversial contract, DU purchased the pipes from the Northeast Morgan County Water Authority in 1989. The contract allowed DU to buy the water lines that served East Morgan County.

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