Bossier City utilities is planning to undergo a million-dollar assessment of all of its water valves to test for safety in an emergency situation.
The city council recently approved $1 million for the study and replacement of its system’s underground valves. These valves are used to shutoff water flow during a line break.
The city’s utility crews have been seeing problems with broken valves that can’t stop water flow. The city recently dealt with an incident where a line broke on Shed Road and maintenance crews trying to isolate the break had to contend with a valve that was broken, resulting in lost water.
“What (the inability to shut off a valve) winds up resulting in is financial damages we have to pay,” said Jeffery Anderson, director of public utilities. “Take for instance, a car hits a fire hydrant — if the valve is malfunctioning and we can’t turn it off, that water is going to continue to run on the ground and that’s lost revenue. We’re having to pay to produce that water.”
He also notes costs can include eroded street panels and damage to private property.
“We’ve had main breaks where we’ve almost flooded out a business,” said Anderson.
The city plans to assess all of the system’s valves over a 12-month time period, split over two fiscal years. Anderson expects approximately 350 will need to be replaced.
“The plan is to go through and operate every valve in the city with pressure sensors to set up a series of short term projects to rehab those.”
Anderson notes that while the project is a large cost, the goal is to apply that over the next couple of years to save those smaller costs to show a net gain.
“I centered the program around replacing 10 percent of the valves. While we may only replace three to five percent, but we’ll have located all the valves and evaluated them, which is information that will be useful over the next several years,” he said.
The money to fund this project will come from a capital contingency fund. Anderson said it will not put a “significant strain on cash flow,” but the spacing of the project allows that money to be drawn out over the next two years.