Old Water Pipes may be Causing Problems - DatelineCarolina

Old Columbia water pipes causing big roblems

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This water pipe is when the build up causes corrosion. This water pipe is when the build up causes corrosion.
Tap water is safe drink, according to the City of Columbia, but the pipes are very old. Tap water is safe drink, according to the City of Columbia, but the pipes are very old.

By: Emily Pacillo

The City of Columbia keeps issuing boil water advisories mainly because of breaks in water pipes.  Columbia Water Works Specialist Jonathan Sherer said a boil water advisory may be issued when a water line loses pressure.

"It could just be any interruption in your service that you need to notify the customers that there could be a water quality issue," said Sherer.

By water quality, Sherer means that there could be toxic chemicals coming out of your faucet, and the problem might be from the pipes that are carrying the water.

The water pipes that serve your neighborhood collect a build up that doesn't seem sanitary, according to Columbia plumber, David Belton.  He says it happens to cast iron pipes that have been used for centuries

"It has a build up inside which causes corrosion, which could make the water toxic as well and can have too much iron, zinc, or even lead," said Belton.

There usually isn't any problems as the water runs through the pipes.  If, however, the pipe breaks and water is left standing, it could pick up sediment and contamination.

The big problem for the city is many of its water mains are very old.  In fact, a pipe was dug up last week from 1897.


The process of replacing these pipes is cyclical, and the city tries to get to each older pipe before it causes a major break.

Money is a big reason why they aren't all being replaced because the city spends roughly one million dollars on replacing pipes every year.  Sherer says the city doesn't lift a boil water advisory until workers are satisfied with the quality of the water.

"Before we let it out to the rest of the system, we check it and make sure it's safe to drink," said Sherer.

Pipes will always have leaks that need to be repaired, as well as, new water lines to design and install.

The city has been trying to repair all breaks as quickly as possible and the advisories are only warnings that the water could be contaminated.


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