Service Authority Maintains Aging Pipes

How likely is a major water main failure to happen in the valley?

The question comes after a major water main failure in Prince George's County, Md. There, more than 200,000 people rushed to get water before an emergency water pipe repair after crews originally said people would be without water for days.

Jesse Roach is the director of construction and field operations for the Augusta County Service Authority. Augusta County has about 400 miles of waterline, he said, and some of the pipes are 30 to 40 years old.

"Even the best pipe can deteriorate if the ground is kind of detrimental to that pipe," Roach said. "It can corrode it. It all just depends on the chemicals in the ground, essentially."

The Service Authority is on a cycle, checking all of the waterline in the county over a five- to eight-year period. They track, replace and repair pipes that are beginning to deteriorate.

But Roach says just reacting to the problems is not enough. The situation in Maryland is a glaring example of what Roach says he is working to prevent.

"You're really going to eventually have problems," he said. "You're going to have that whole pipe with repair clamps all the way through it and it's just going to be a matter of time before something severe happens."

The pipes, Roach said, should last for about 60 years. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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