MARIETTA - They're not the oldest in town, but the main waterlines on Glendale Road and Brentwood Street are definitely in need of replacement, according to Jeff Kephart, Marietta's water superintendent.
In mid-July crews with Zanesville-based Zemba Excavating began a project to replace more than a mile of water main along Glendale from Hadley Lane to Brentwood Street, then on Brentwood from Glendale to Colegate Drive.
"We've had a good history of problems with waterlines in that area," Kephart said. "From the research I've done those lines were originally installed in the early to mid-60s-the pipes were made of cast iron."
He said the iron lines are being replaced with a thick-walled plastic pipe.
Kephart said brown water has been one of the biggest complaints from residents in that area.
"At one time we were getting complaints at least once a week about discolored water," Kephart said. "It was never unsafe to drink, but the water was not making a proper loop through the waterlines and could stir up some sediment."
He said water plant workers have to flush the lines to make the water run clear again.
The new water main should solve the problem, Kephart said, adding that part of the Glendale Road and Brentwood Street project will also include an upgrade from 2-inch to 6-inch waterline in the adjacent Crestlyn Court area.
Although the water main will be installed, plans to include the painting of water tanks in the North Hills area and at the city water plant to coincide with the project are not likely to go through this year.
"We didn't get a competitive bid on the water tank painting contract. The one bid we received came in well above the original engineer's estimate," said Eric Lambert, project manager with the city engineer's office.
He said the bid for painting the 500,000-gallon North Hills tank alone was more than 110 percent higher than the engineer's estimate of $169,400.
The engineer's estimate for painting the tank at the city water plant was about $99,495.
"I don't see us getting the tanks done this year," Lambert said. "We're currently trying to figure out why the bid came in so high. Painting contractors currently have plenty of work right now. So I would like to re-group and re-bid the project again late this year to be done next season."
He said Zemba will still be held to a 70-day timeframe to complete the Glendale water main installation from Hadley Lane to Brentwood Street, a schedule that was developed to coincide with the planned water tank painting.
"When the waterline project was advertised we had to operate under the assumption we would be awarding a water tank painting contract, too," Lambert explained. "So the 70-day schedule is still valid."
He said the entire waterline project is slated for completion in early November.
The city has approximately 87 miles of underground water main. Some in the downtown area are more than a century old.
"We're shooting to replace about a mile of waterline a year," Kephart said. "But cost is always a factor."
He noted that a similar water main replacement project last year along Colegate Drive, west of the Glendale Road intersection, cost about $350,000 per mile, but this year's Glendale and Brentwood project will cost about $549,000 per mile.
"A lot of the cost also depends on how many residential or business tie-in connections have to be made," Kephart said.
Deciding whether to replace or repair a waterline depends on a number of factors, he said.
"We consider the age of the line, the frequency of breaks, and how many customers are served by the water main-the number of customers can be a big factor," Kephart said.
Lambert added that the engineering department applies a cost-benefit analysis to all projects.
"We also have to look at the overall efficiency of the network," he said.