Since the Flint water crisis has come to a head, utilities and municipalities all over the country have started paying much more attention to the socially and economically costly problems that can develop from existing lead lines in the system. Has your department made a plan for removing or replacing these lines? If not, you may want to get into gear exploring your options. But while many utilities are looking at replacing existing lead lines, they haven't considered the ramifications it will have on the rest of the existing system. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when replacing your utility's existing lead lines.
Many utilities make the mistake of focusing on the cost of replacing the lines themselves. There is great consideration given to the replacement supply line material, to avoid the very great expense of having to change the lines out again. Looking at horizontal drilling or line pulling to replace the lines may be considered if the community has grown up significantly since the lines were installed, as digging may cause significant property damage and expense in the process. Considerations may be made towards the expense of using an older backhoe versus hiring one in or replacing the older backhoe with a newer model at the same time.
What about the inconvenience to your customers? You may spend time determining when business areas can be updated during the evenings, overnight or on weekends to minimize the impact to your municipality's economy. Planning to reduce the inconvenience to residential customers also comes into play, allowing the piping to be replaced a piece at a time to minimize the customer service issues that may arise. Certain compromises must be made between an ideal system replacement line and the one that fits the budget. These issues also require significant attention and energy applied towards them.
However, one area where many utilities are failing to plan is in the replacement of the flange adaptors being used in the system. Anyone who has worked in waterworks knows that the expense of the fittings can often exceed that of the pipe being laid, due to the specialized tooling and time it takes to produce a high-quality piece. You need to consider not only the replacement line, but also the adaptors that will come into play to reconnect the new lines to the existing supply lines into meters and homes, into parts of the system that are being left in place due to lower lead content and similar concerns.
At Red Hed Manufacturing, we understand those issues and concerns. That's why we offer lead flange adaptors in both compression and flare fittings in a wide range of sizes. But even better, our lead-free adaptors are actually lead free, protecting your department against tightening restrictions on lead in water lines that may come out of the Flint water crisis. If you're ready to make the change to completely lead-free fittings, we'd be happy to help. Just contact us today for more details on our products.