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Troy Replaces Problem Water Line

This is the site of the Troy water main break on the day after.
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

A more than century-old water line under the streets of Troy that burst in January 2016, setting off a water crisis around the Capital Region, has been replaced.

In early January of last year, the City of Troy began losing 8 million gallons of water.

A 33-inch, then-110-year old water line in Lansingburgh burst, affecting not only customers in Troy, but in nine surrounding communities across three counties.

Work began to replace a section of the line in March of this year. Just over four months later, the work is complete.

Troy Mayor Patrick Madden.

“We have since, in this project that we’ve just completed this week, we’ve replaced just shy of a mile of that old, 110-year-old steel pipe. And in doing it we’ve also created some new pathways so we have redundancy in our system now so if a line goes down, we have other ways to route water to all of our customers,” said Madden.

When the original pipe ruptured it took weeks to repair.

The new 36-inch ductile iron pipeline comes with the welcome addition of modern technology.

Troy Superintendent of Public Utilities Chris Wheland recently explained to WAMC that after the pipe broke it was impossible to repair it with a new section and what are called repair clamps.

That’s because the old pipe was made from riveted steel — you can’t simply clamp on a new section without causing leaks.

“The only way to repair the riveted steel main was to actually weld to it. We had to grind the rivets off and weld to it, and that’s what took the repair so long,” said Wheland.

While the numbers are not final yet, Madden estimated the cost of the replacement at $3.4 million.

The city got financial help from the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation.

“We qualitied for a 60 percent grant and a 40 percent loan. The loan is zero interest so it made it very affordable for us to undertake this,” said Madden.

Madden said the grant will come in around $2 million and the loan about $1.4 million.

But, as Madden says, when the weakest link in the system is fixed, a new link becomes the weakest one.

“We do have a plan for replacement in certain areas. Same on our sewer lines. We’re looking at where they’re weakest, where they break down most, where they’re oldest, and putting together plans to address these as well,” said Madden.

Aging Troy infrastructure was recently blamed for sewage overflows into the Hudson during heavy rains.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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