Hastings Utility Board members learned more about the state of the city’s water infrastructure and plans for its rejuvenation at the board’s monthly meeting Thursday.
Brandan Lubken, water and wastewater superintendent for Hastings Utilities, gave a PowerPoint presentation to the board showing plans for replacing water main and piping.
He said officials see a need to get out ahead of problems more in the future, and not wait to act as mains get older and older and break more and more.
“We met as a committee several times,” Lubken told the board. “We feel as a group we have been reactionary in how we address our main infrastructure problems. If we have a problem we fix it. With our system staying in the ground and as it is getting older we feel we need to be more proactive.”
Lubken described how his committee would tackle the need in a step-by-step process, which will take time.
“In prioritization we have break history,” he said. “We want to know as a community how we stand for main breaks. I’m talking about ruptured pipes in the ground, split pipes, little pits that turn into big problems and how we compare nationally. We’ve got a lot of pipe in the ground that has been built throughout the years.”
Problems are becoming more frequent as the infrastructure ages and deteriorates, Lubken said.
“From 1988 we have been covering main breaks. Over the course since 1988 on average we have about 7.5 breaks per year. If you take the average of that data, it is up over 50% from the past 20 years. We are seeing an uptick in those problems. Throughout our community our breaks are spread out. We are addressing problem areas when they come up.
The city of Hastings has about 206 miles of main.
“From 1988 to present our break rate for 100 miles is 3.5,” Lubken said. “In the last five years it has gone up to 4.5. Comparing that to regional, main break is increasing but well below industrial average.”
Lubken talked about the age of some of the piping that is in the ground currently.
“The older in-use mains are from the 1800s,” he said. “We have some old stuff in the ground — 130 years or better. From 1980 to present there were a lot of main being put into the ground.”