A $3.8 million water main upgrade starts this month in north Orange; traffic and water interruptions are expected over the next year while the city replaces its aging pipes.
The first signs of the project can been seen at Lincoln Avenue and Tustin Street, where metal plating covers holes made for the first upgraded pipes placed underground. Later this month, the project will begin in earnest, with work spreading as far north as Riverview Avenue in the coming year.
The city will be replacing cast-iron pipes, installed in the 1960s, which have been eaten away by the area’s corrosive soil. Orange Water Manager Jose Diaz said the old-fashioned pipes can last from 20 to 60 years; no major problems have sprung up thus far, but considering the problematic soil, he said it’s better not to wait to start replacements.
“You don’t want to take any chances,” Diaz said. “You know it’s leaking, you know the pipe is getting old – you don’t want to wait, you want to replace it.”
As the soil corrodes the pipes, water quality can potentially be affected, and maintenance is required to fix leaks and other problems – work that requires the city to shut off water and tear up its roads.
The upcoming project will replace these worn pipes with new PVC pipes, which can last a century with significantly less maintenance, keeping both traffic and water flowing.
A longer life-span isn’t the only benefit – the pipes are less likely to impact water quality and will be wider, allowing for better water flow in the case of fires, Diaz said.
Over the course of the project, water interruptions can be expected for businesses and residences in the area. Interruptions are expected to last for about four hours each, and notices will be sent well in advance, Diaz said. As far as traffic impacts, main roads such as Lincoln and Tustin will be worked on at night. Work in residential areas, including homes off of Santa Ana Canyon Road, will be done during the day.