How does the city inspect water mains?

Posted at 1:15 PM, Aug 02, 2013

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) – Road crews shut down a portion of Main Street near Church Hill Friday to repave the road where the worst of three water main breaks flooded Richmond streets.

The flooded streets impacted traffic and businesses on Wednesday leaving some people wondering about the process of inspecting Richmond’s water mains.

“The city has old infrastructure.  I do not see any employees inspecting anything,” said John Wheeler, who owns an engine repair shop on Main Street.

CBS 6 contacted the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to find out what goes into inspecting Richmond’s water mains.

Officials said it is a comprehensive process that involves analyzing various aspects of each main.

Water is constantly running through the pipes, so DPU looks at factors such as the age of a pipe, the soil it is buried in, the amount of weight above it and how a pipe was manufactured to determine what might need replacement or repair.

DPU said there are hundreds of situations that could cause a main to break.  Even if a hole the size of a pin develops on a pipe, the water pressure is substantial enough to result in a break, officials said.  Because of this, the department said they take a structured approach to inspecting water mains.

Crews working on Main Street Friday were in stage three of the repair: road restoration.  Officials said they hope to finish the repaving by Friday night, but would extend the project if need be.

(Ed: In the video that accompanied this story, it was reported that Millie’s Diner lost water during the water main break. That was not the case.)