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City stays ahead of snapping water lines
Jul 31, 2013 | 708 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE – No one would blame a local resident for being frustrated to wake up and see water running down the gutter in front of his or her home from a broken water main.

Especially with the level of Lake Corpus Christi dropping by the day and city leaders talking about spending millions of dollars to develop alternative water supplies.

But water leaks during hot, dry summers are the nature of the beast, according to the city’s water superintendent.

Cesario Vela said water line breaks are impossible to prevent during droughts. The ground shifts and subterranean pipes break.

Then, when the rains finally do come, the ground shifts, and pipes start breaking all over again.

Vela said Beeville has been lucky so far this year. There have been some water main breaks but not as many as there could have been.

And Vela has city utility crews taking steps to see that there are fewer breaks in the future.

Most of the water main breaks in Beeville are in the aging cast iron lines that were buried decades ago, Vela said. He has had his crews steadily replacing those old iron pipes with more durable polyvinyl chloride lines in areas where the iron pipes have caused the most trouble.

Also, city crews are replacing a lot of the existing two-inch lines with six-inch lines.

“I’m not putting anything in but six-inch lines,” Vela said this week.

Using the larger diameter water lines not only provides better water pressure in neighborhoods, but it also helps to reduce the amount of water city residents use.

“We’re trying to eliminate areas where we have the most problems,” Vela said. Old lines are being replaced in many locations around the city.

East Corpus Christi and South Lightburne streets are just two areas within the city that have had new water lines installed.

Work on West Milam and Crockett and Springer streets also has helped to reduce the number of water line breaks.

Vela said everyone should expect water line breaks to continue. Hotter and drier weather is ahead for South Texas residents. August and September can be some of the worst months.

When the rains do start again, Vela said residents can expect to see more service lines breaking.

He said he is requiring builders and developers to install copper lines underground instead of the PVC service lines. Copper is stronger and stands up to ground shifts much better than the smaller plastic lines.

“We’ve made a lot of changes, but the changes we’ve made are for the betterment of the community,” Vela said.

One of those changes has been requiring builders and contractors to replace smaller, six-inch sewer lines with eight-inch lines.

One of the ways Vela is saving the city is by having city utility department employees doing the work on infrastructure improvements.

In the past, contractors have been hired to perform a lot of the improvements to the utility system. Now, with Vela and others on staff holding advanced state licenses, the city has the management it needs to take care of those projects in house.

Management personnel are able to draw up specifications now, and the personnel working for the water department have always had the skills to do the work.

“It’s actually saving a lot of money,” Vela said.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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