Huntsville Utilities can't rule out age of pipe in water main break

The pipe was 54 years old, but Huntsville Utilities said there were other contributing factors.

Posted: Feb 8, 2018 10:24 PM
Updated: Feb 8, 2018 11:08 PM

One lane along South Memorial Parkway is still closed Thursday night after a water main pipe broke on Wednesday.

WAA31 learned that pipe was installed in 1964, which made it 54 years old.

WAAY 31 did some digging Thursday to find out if the age of the pipe played a role in it breaking and if there is a bigger problem of old pipes under huntsville.

Even though the road isn't fully open yet the pipe has been replaced and water is working for everyone who was impacted Wednesday by the break.

Huntsville Utilities told WAAY 31 they can't definitively say if age played a factor or not in it breaking.

Kevin Allen lives near where the water main broke.

"This water main breaking shut down everything. I have friends that work over at sanmina they had to leave work," said Allen.

Huntsville Utilities told WAAY 31 even though they can't say if the age of the pipe played a roll they believe other factors disturbed the water main causing it to break.

"Every raw material has a life, but again, that's not what caused this failure," said Huntsville Utilities Spokesman Joe Gehrdes.

The age of the pipe being 54 years old got WAAY 31 thinking; How old are the rest of the pipes?

"The age of our system it's going to vary, because a lot of huntsville and our water service area is new developments, so you've got pipes that are a year old. You've got pipes that are 10 years old. You've got pipes that are fifty years old," said Gehrdes.

Huntsville Utilities told WAAY 31 they are more concerned about other man made damages to pipes in the area, but the age of the system is also something they're thinking about.

"We are concerned about that. We obviously don't want any system failures based on that, but it's sort of a 'if it aint broke don't fix it approach, because that's how we keep costs down," said Gehrdes.

For Allen, after hearing how old this pipe was, he's concerned others might go out.

Huntsville Utilities has told WAAY 31 all utility work eventually makes it way to customers bills.

"What's to say another pipe goes out. We're going to be impacted and have to pay for these pipes. We may not have to be covered for water, but the pipes and construction is going to come back on us and we should get it up to date or at least know what's going on with some of these pipes," said Allen.

WAAY 31 is putting in a Freedom of Information Act request to Huntsville Utilities to see what sort of maintenance is being done on the pipes in our area, which should also give us a better idea of how old the system actually is.

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