In October 2020, WCSA was awarded an $18.7 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development loan for improvements to water storage and distribution systems. The funds will help support the Abingdon Water Storage Tank Improvements Project and the Galvanized Line Replacement — Phase 3 Project.
The water storage tank project will provide a new 1.5 million-gallon tank, which will directly impact approximately 6,600 water connections. The project is underway and scheduled for completion later this year.
The third and final phase of the galvanized line replacement project is part of a long-term upgrade to replace all galvanized pipe in WCSA’s distribution system. Previous phases begun over the past decade replaced lines in Abingdon, Glade Spring and nearby outlying areas.
Construction projects in the third phase include the relocation of 63 water meters, the installation of 145 fire hydrants, and the installation of more than 300,000 linear feet (55 miles) of new 4-inch to 12-inch water line. The length of the new water line is slightly greater than the distance from the Tennessee/Virginia state line when traveling along I-81 to the Wythe County line near Rural Retreat.
The scale of the galvanized line replacement project requires it to be subdivided into seven divisions or construction contracts. The project will improve service for 1,600 residential customers in the Harrison, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Taylor, Tyler and Wilson Districts. Construction began in November 2020. Some divisions are expected to be completed in the fall of 2021, while others will be completed by the summer of 2022.
WCSA’s distribution system consists of more than 900 miles of water line, 200 miles of which is small galvanized steel pipe. Approximately 40% of existing WCSA customers are directly connected to this type of pipe. As it ages, galvanized pipe tends to corrode from the outside, leading to frequent leaks and water quality complaints. It makes up approximately 86% of all repaired water leaks in WCSA’s system.
“Because most of the galvanized pipe in our system is two inches or smaller in diameter, it can’t provide adequate flow or pressure in some cases,” says Robbie Cornett, WCSA’s general manager. “Much of this line was installed in WCSA’s system in the 1950s and has reached the end of its useful life. It’s costly to operate and maintain, offers no capacity for growth, and does not meet our expectations or those of our customers. For these reasons, all galvanized line is being replaced.
“The remaining galvanized line in WCSA’s system is being replaced with new PVC and ductile iron pipe,” Cornett notes. “This will eliminate repair costs associated with the existing line, provide increased flow and pressure to meet customers’ needs, and allow fire flow where possible and feasible. This will also offer the opportunity for future expansion in areas deemed suitable for growth, reduce water loss, and enable WCSA to continue delivering clean drinking water that meets or exceeds all regulations.”
WCSA customers who reside in areas of planned construction will be notified in advance of any anticipated water outages. Construction will occur along existing and acquired easements. WCSA has contracted with several regional contractors to construct the Phase 3 project, and a WCSA representative will be onsite at each construction location.
The work will involve digging a trench for installation of the new line. The trench will be deep enough to provide at least three feet of cover over the pipe. Once the new line has been installed, tested and approved by an engineer, the contractor will disconnect water meters from the old line and reconnect them to the newly installed line. Properties will be restored to their pre-existing conditions.
For questions about the project, contact WCSA’s customer service department at 276.628.7151.