Tag Archives: improvements

Pipe Enhancements in North Charlotte, Part of Larger Charlotte Water Program

Lakeview Road is open! Charlotte Water (CLTWater) recently removed the closure and traffic measures along Statesville Road near Lakeview Road, as crews worked on a large water main opening along the roadway.

The work, related to the Water Transmission Mains Improvement & Repairs (WTMIR) Program, began Monday, July 24, and lasted a couple weeks. While traffic measures like detours and lane closures are sometimes frustrating, they are necessary for the safety of work crews and the public. In this case, the water main work happened parallel to other construction activities in the area. Thus, protecting people as well as the project was a priority.

Construction foreman removing cracked pieces of the pipe’s outer layer to assess the condition of the inner steel pipe.

Planning for any construction project while continuing to maintain access for nearby businesses, residents and motorists, can be complicated. It also takes a team effort. Before the project work begins, CLTWater collaborates closely with several different groups, such as state and city partners like NCDOT, CDOT, and other construction projects, to compare traffic plans and discuss ways to mitigate potential impacts as best as possible. This is all part of the important work CLTWater continues to do daily to provide clean, safe and reliable water across the Charlotte region.

Crew members are guiding the equipment operator on where to dump stone into the trench. While fixing the pipe, stone is added in the trench to combat the wet conditions.

Protecting and strengthening the CLTWater system is an important part of the daily work crews do. In the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, Charlotte Water designated millions of dollars towards the systemwide repairs and improvements, designed to update some of the oldest infrastructure throughout the system.

View of the existing pipe that is damaged. The wires pictured around the pipe are called “reinforcing steel wires.” They help keep the inner steel pipe from failing when there is pressure on the line. When the outside layer of mortar cracks over time, it allows the reinforcing steel wires to be exposed to the elements. After some time, the wires will begin to rust and break. This leaves the inner pipe without reinforcement and can eventually cause a line break.

In 2015, CLTWater completed a Water Transmission Mains Assessment, which evaluated some high-risk pipe composition across the water system that could need replacement. Transmission mains are the highways of water distribution; they are large pipes that convey water from pump stations or treatment plants to the neighbor distribution water lines. Since 2019, additional assessments identified various improvements needed to optimize the function and resiliency of the existing water transmission system.

The WTMIR Program is a combination of various replacement and installation projects across the water system, grouped under an umbrella of work designed to improve the water system. The Program is broken down into Zone Areas throughout the CLTWater service area. Each Zone Area will consist of various design and construction projects, which may or may not occur simultaneously.

When a pipe is damaged, workers will cut out the bad section and replace it with a stronger, more durable, pipe. The pipe pictured here is called Ductile Iron Pipe (or DIP). This is the finished replacement.  

The importance of the WTMIR Program is to ensure water continues to flow to customers and reduces future emergency repairs that lead to unplanned water outages and traffic disruption.

Work has already been completed in several areas along Old Statesville Road, with upcoming work along Peachtree Rd, Oakdale Rd and other areas expected later this year.

For more information, visit https://www.charlottenc.gov/Growth-and-Development/Projects/Water-Transmission-Mains-Improvement-and-Repairs-Program.

Making Water Outages at Critical Care Facilities a Thing of the Past

In order to repair a broken water main, the location of the break has to be isolated by using pre-installed valves. There are 85,547 water main valves throughout our system. In most cases, this process requires us to turn off water access to nearby customers before working on a pressurized main. An inconvenience for some, but for others like critical care facilities, can be a matter of life or death. That is where a new insertion valve comes in.

The valve can be installed on an existing in-service main and allows us to perform maintenance or repairs without shutting down nearby blocks of the water distribution system.

Staff are currently being trained to install these special valves, and have already installed four in critical areas.

3 men in hard hats are in a hole in the road installing a valve
a group of men wearing hard hats and safety vests standing around a valve in the street
Crew 422 with Crew Chief Travis Cutherbertson and Delmond Cummings installing an insertion valve in Cornelius.

The goal is that at least one crew in every one of our four zones is trained on this specialized valve insertion process so that when a repair is needed near a critical facility, we can install the valve and eliminate the need for a water outage.

Labor Crew Chief and insertion valve project manager Delmond Cummings says, “These valves use fewer fittings, meaning less chance of leaks to the distribution system. The hydraulic integrity of this equipment helps reduce turning off residents or community water for extended periods of time for repair. With this training, employees learn new methods and technologies that upgrade/enhance their knowledge and skill level.

Though we can’t guarantee that a water outage won’t occur during a repair or routine maintenance of our distribution system, we hope that with the addition of these types of valves in our toolkit, we can minimize disruption to our customers.

This is just one of the many ways that our staff are working to improve the resiliency of a system that protects public health and the environment.

Flushing and the growth of the Queen City

Before cranes build the next skyscraper or apartment complex, developers must reach out to Charlotte Water to see if the wastewater infrastructure has the capacity for the increase in the-ahem-flow.

From the pipes that carry your wastewater to the treatment plants, to the plants themselves, they all have a specific amount of wastewater that they can hold and treat before the system gets overwhelmed. If a building with say 600 new units wants to be developed but our pipes couldn’t handle the extra waste then development halts until the capacity issue is resolved. This delay in construction is not good for business or the growth of our city, so that is where our Capacity Assurance Program comes in. Our highly trained engineers, who take projected growth and future developments into consideration, review the capacity of our entire system. In calendar year 2018 Charlotte Water received 391 separate requests, it is anticipated that there will be more than 600 requests by the end of 2019.

This isn’t something that we just eyeball, there is a science to it. We anticipate a specific number of gallons of wastewater will be produced from each particular type of development, as you can see below:

  • 190 gallons per day for each dwelling unit for single-family residential areas (including townhouses).
  • 135 gallons per day for each multi-family residential unit.
  • 25 gallons per employee/shift for office space.

This information helps our engineers know whether a new or redeveloped site can handle the increase in wastewater and respond appropriately to each developers request for access to the wastewater system. A major part of our capital budget, which is funded through water and sewer rates, goes towards increasing the capacity of our system.

Our staff works hard to make sure we anticipate growth and perform projects to increase capacity before development starts. Our recent wastewater project near Barringer Drive is a great example of upsizing pipes to fit new developments.

“This project is a success story,” said Angela Lee, Director of Charlotte Water.  “We were going to clean and install a new liner in the pipe. Before we started, the service area started to redevelop and we were able to quickly change course and upsize the pipe before major private developments started building vertically. This project is one of many that show our passion to serve the public and the ability to deliver on-time commitments to the community.”

The original wastewater pipes were eight to ten inches in diameter, the new pipes are now 18 or 24 inches in diameter. The total cost of the project was $2.5 million.

“While we installed the wastewater pipe, private developers were able to start their construction as well. Our new pipe was in service before the developments were completed.”

Charlotte Water has made sure the Capacity Assurance Program aligns with the development time frame from conception to completion to support rather than impede the growth of Charlotte.

For more information about other projects being done throughout Mecklenburg County to increase capacity,  and improve water quality and reliability visit our website.