South Dallas planning water overhaul

Published 8:16 pm Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The South Dallas County Water Authority will open bids Wednesday for two projects that could fix leaks, replace eight miles of pipe and keep service running after a major storm.

The water authority plans to replace 841 water meter assemblies and 1074 water services, adding up to eight miles in total pipe, according to bid documents. At the same time, the water authority also plans to install a diesel generator at its Pleasant Hill pumping station — northeast of Minter near Dallas County Road 7.

The project should greatly increase the water authority’s overall efficiency, said chairman Teddy Pouncey.

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“The main thing was that we had so many service lines leaking,” Pouncey said. “Someone would have to dig up and replace them. With the line loss, it was a big expense to the system.”

On average, leakage is five to seven million gallons per month, said Torrey Jones, who runs the water authority’s management company. The leakage means about 35 percent of the total water pumped each month is lost.

“Line loss is basically the difference between the amount pumped each month and how much you sell,” Jones said. “It’s just unaccounted for line water.”

The project would replace outdated lines running from water mains to customer’s houses, he said.

The increased efficiency likely won’t have a significant effect on customers, Jones said.

Though, he said newer water lines could increase water pressure and prevent future rate increases.

While replacing pipe, Pouncey said the water authority plans to replace all current meters with ones that transmit radio signals, which would more accurately read usage.

“Instead of going up to the meter, one truck can drive down the road and read the whole system,” he said. “Older meters record less gallons and eventually become a dead meter.”

The water authority hasn’t set a construction date, but Jones said he hopes to get started within a month of Wednesday’s bid opening. Construction would start near Minter — where the oldest lines are located — and move toward Sardis and Tyler. Jones said finishing the entire project by the end of 2014 is a possibility.

In addition to pipe replacement, the water authority will also install a backup generator at its Pleasant Hill station, which could be useful after hurricanes or major storms, Pouncey said. He said the Pleasant Hill station does not currently have a backup generator.

The entire project will be funded with a loan through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. About half of the loan will be forgiven, leaving the South Dallas County Water Authority with about $470,000 to pay back.