Except when leaks erupt, the city’s water pipes have been largely neglected since they were installed as the city was developed between 1873 and 1890, Isensee said.
“The water lines have not been cleared in a meaningful way in 75 years,” he said. “Since then, maintenance has focused on downtown, so (pipes serving) a lot of the neighborhoods have never been cleared.”
“It’s been running like a ‘57 Buick Roadmaster,” Fazio said about the water treatment and distribution system. “Eight miles to the gallon.”
The cleared water lines are not expected to improve water quality, which already is high, Fazio said. The city draws its water from the Merrimack River. It built a new water treatment plant in 2007.
“The water is safe,” Fazio said. “We meet all drinking water standards. What we do need is fire safety.”