Cost of water system needs growsBy ANTHONY WARREN,
What was a $405 million problem for Jackson five years ago is likely a more costly one today, at least according to one city official.
A 2013 assessment of the city’s water system showed Jackson needed $405 million to bring the system up to par.
Based on inflation alone, the total cost for repairs would now total around $439 million.
The amount, though, could be even higher based on the system’s continued wear and tear.
“It is safe to assume that the costs have not remained constant, but have likely increased as pipes continue to age,” said Public Works Director Bob Miller.
Miller, who joined the city in October, said he has seen the study, but had not asked for it to be updated at press time.
He said the data is still valid, and will likely be used as the city plans future infrastructure improvements.
In October, the city began conducting a gap analysis to review what data it had on hand and what data it lacked in terms of infrastructure.
It was not known when the analysis would be completed.
Jackson could have well over $3 billion in infrastructure needs, based on previous studies.
In addition to more than $400 million in water needs, the city is facing $2 billion in road needs and between $600 million and $800 million in sewer needs.
Last January, the city’s former one-percent program manager estimated costs based on the results of a 2013 road assessment.
Sewer costs were based on estimates the administration shared with city council members last fall. The sewer expenses are required as part of a consent decree with the federal government.
According to the water study, about $332 million is needed to replace the cast-iron pipes that were installed in Jackson in the early 1990s.
Another $29.5 million is needed to complete a transmission line to take customers off of the antiquated water well system; $39.8 million to replace all water lines six inches or smaller; and $4.9 million to replace existing PVC pipes with ductile iron.
Those amounts do not include additional costs that the city would incur because of the system’s continued aging, nor does it include improvements made to the system since.
Several upgrades have been made to the city’s water system thanks to the implementation of the infrastructure sales tax.
The tax was put in place in 2014, and the first-year master plan was passed a little more than a year later.
The plan listed several water improvement projects on the Northside, including replacing two water mains along Eastover Drive.
Last year, the city finished an $826,000 project to replace the first segment of the Eastover main between Ridgewood Road and the I-55 North frontage road. The next segment will include replacing a six-inch (wide) line with a 10-inch line from Twin Lakes Circle to Dogwood Drive.
Jackson has approximately 1,100 miles of underground water pipeline. Of that, larger transmission lines total 220 miles, and smaller mains total 800 miles. Twenty percent of Jackson’s pipelines are 100 years or older; 30 percent are 60 years or older; and another 30 percent are 40 years or older.
Some of the oldest lines are in Fondren and Belhaven, as evidenced by the large number of breaks that occurred in the neighborhoods during the January water crisis.