A second phase that would begin the process of clearing or replacing the clogged pipes in the 140-mile underground water delivery system also is about to get underway. Over the next four months, engineers will develop models of the flow through the system to identify where the problems are worst, information that will be used to rank repairs as the money becomes available.
In the meantime, Councilor Daniel Rivera suggested rating all of the city’s 1,300 hydrants according to the pressure they deliver and marking the hydrants with that information so that firefighters know what to expect when they arrive.
Isensee said that could cause another sort of problem.
“We have so many problem areas in the city that it’s going to cause an uproar among citizens,” he said.
The sewer and water department has accumulated a $7 million surplus in recent years, which Isensee said is hardly enough to do the work needed to clear and replace pipes. But he said the state often provides grants and low-interest loans for the projects.
“The water supply system has been benignly neglected for 50 years,” Chief Bergeron told the council. “That’s no fault of anyone’s. We haven’t had the finances to maintain the system.”