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Upgrading GSO's Aging Pipes Takes Years, Millions

7:10 PM, Nov 29, 2012   |    comments
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Greensboro water main break

Greensboro, NC -- Most people never stop to think about the pipes that deliver water to their house and take sewage from it.

But consider this: there are 3,200 miles of sewage and water pipes in the city of Greensboro. That's enough to get from here all the way out to Los Angeles -- and then back to Albuquerque.

The majority of the pipes are decades old, and it's the prime time of year to see pipes and water mains break. City water crews sometimes work as many as five or six breaks a day during the winter.

On Monday, a burst pipe caused Kiser Middle School to close early. It also shut down parts of Benjamin Parkway for hours. The fix cost at least $55,000 for the pipe work and road repair.

Rehabbing all the city's pipes before they break will cost hundreds of millions more, but the director of water resources, Steven Drew, says it's worth it "to make sure that we have the capacity for future use, for immediate health and safety -- fire suppression and drinking water and sanitation -- and for economic development."

The city actively rehabs or replaces about one half of one percent of its pipes every year to try to prevent breaks. At its current rate of repair, it'll take about 200 years to rehab all its current pipes. Drew hopes to have that down to a 100-year plan soon. Greensboro is in good shape, Drew says, especially when some small cities are on a 500-year plan.

WFMY News 2

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