Nashville-based Metro Water is looking to upgrade its water system due to the advanced age of the water infrastructure as well as population growth in the area. Some elements of Metro’s water system are shockingly old – for example, the original water treatment plant, which is still online, is nearly 130 years old.
The objective is to improve resiliency and redundancy within the system in order to prevent bottlenecks and reduce the risk of service outages. The main component of this initiative is the development of a 5-mile large diameter transmission main.
How Metro is Upgrading the Water System
The 5-mile long transmission line will be built under parts of two major state highways, and will encompass a 36-inch and a 60-inch portion. The project is targeting a 1-year completion schedule (late 2017 / early 2018), which is aggressive considering that the development work involves tearing up a major 2-lane highway. Another ‘phase 2’ element is the development of an additional feeder line from the main treatment plant, designed to accomplish redundancy and improve system capacity.
The first 6 months of the project involved public outreach tactics such as door-to-door campaigns and community town halls. This began in 2016. Because very few people have seen such a large pipe, Metro even went as far as displaying a 60-inch main in the local Christmas parade. These efforts paid off, with Metro achieving the necessary community support and buy-in for the project.
I love this initiative and wish more water utilities would follow suit. Let’s face it, this country’s aging water infrastructure is rapidly deteriorating, and needs to be upgraded in order to reduce the risk of an outage scenario, which would have a detrimental domino effect if such an outage occurred during a massive electric utility restoration effort. If the Flint water crisis has shown anything, it’s that an aging water system will create massive problems sooner or later. So the time is now to start investing in water infrastructure to mitigate the risk.