Thursday, December 9, 2021

Council-Approved Contract Will Replace Water Service Lines


Improvements will enhance reliability and resiliency for customers

At its Dec. 9 meeting, Council approved a construction contract to replace more than 2,000 water service lines in more than 60 subdivisions around Austin that will improve reliability and resiliency for customers.

Water service lines are smaller pipelines that run from the water main, typically located in the street, to customers’ meters connecting to their private plumbing lines.

In the late 1960s many utilities began using polybutylene and polyethylene, collectively referred to as poly, for installing new water service lines. Over time, these plastic resin materials have proven to become brittle and more prone to breaks especially in areas where system water pressure is higher – resulting in water outages for customers and requiring emergency repairs.

Austin Water estimates that about 25,000 poly water service lines were installed throughout its system from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s. To date, Austin Water has replaced more than 3,000 poly water service lines with stronger pipe materials and in 2022 the selected contractor will begin replacement work in areas with higher water pressure (exceeding 105 pounds per square inch). These areas have been prioritized since higher water pressure coupled with the brittle pipe material have resulted in a higher number of breaks compared to areas with lower pressure. Affected customers will be notified before work begins in their subdivision.

“Austin Water has identified that this outdated material is the primary source of service line breaks in our system and has a proactive program to replace these lines with stronger materials. These replacements will improve reliability for customers, decrease the cost and inconvenience of emergency repairs and help reduce water leaks in our system,” said Greg Meszaros, Austin Water Director.

In addition to this contract, Austin Water will continue to use in-house crews to proactively replace poly water services and may execute additional contracts to further expedite the replacement process.

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