News Feature | April 15, 2014

Dallas Takes On Aging Infrastructure

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

LawnProtest

Dallas locals have been noticing problems created by the city's outdated water infrastructure. 

"Many of the aging mains are made from cast iron and causing concern in neighborhoods such as Munger Place. Residents there often see discolored water, especially after a rainstorm," the Dallas Morning News reported

“It’s been bad for a long time,” Jeanine Michna-Bales, a longtime resident, said in the report, noting that discoloration has gotten worse over the last year. 

Dallas Water Utilities, which operates as a non-profit City of Dallas department, is taking on the challenge—or at least, some of it.

"The water utility will replace some of those older mains this year, with more updates planned for coming years," the report said. 

Richard Wagner, an official at Dallas Water Utilities, said the city is thinking of the long game. 

“We assume that the infrastructure we put in is going to last 50 years, and we try to plan our replacement schedule to account for that,” he said. “Some of these mains have been in the ground for 60 to 70 years.”

The capital budget for this year includes $100 million to $120 million for water and wastewater main replacements, the report said, citing Wagner. 

Dallas Water Utilities urge its customers to get in on the upgrade effort. It explains that new "toilet replacement programs helps Dallas residents save water and money." 

Cities all over Texas are struggling with outdated infrastructure.

"Texas has reported $26 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years. Texas has reported $11.5 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs over the next 20 years," according to an infrastructure report card compiled by the American Society of Civil Engineers. 

Some relief may be on the way. 

Last May, Texas Governor Rick Perry signed into law a bill "creating a fund to finance water infrastructure projects in a state suffering from two years of widespread drought," Reuters reported

The law proposed drawing $2 billion from the state's rainy day fund for water purposes. 

Image credit: "Lawn Protest: The "evidence"," © 2009 Thompson Photography, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

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