Friday, May 24, 2013
Behind the Scenes, Inside the Pipes at AWWU
Inspectors check out water and sewer lines for the first time in over 20 years and KTVA’s cameras are going along for the ride.
It only takes a twist of a knob to turn on the tap, but underground, it’s a different story.
The 8,800-foot long Eklutna water main supplies clean, fresh water to the majority of the Anchorage Bowl, and Thursday a group of utility workers and engineers crawled through those pipes to make sure everything is running smoothly.
“If we ever need to take one section down, we can still flow water from another section,” said Steve Nuss, project manager for the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility.
But despite the thousands of feet of pipes and millions of gallons of water flowing through them every day, this is the first major inspection since the main became operational in 1988.
"We're wanting to make sure that our system is operating into the future for those 75 and 80 years that we project,” Nuss said.
While AWWU previously operated reactively, Nuss said today’s inspection is part of a push to become increasingly proactive when it comes to line maintenance.
The inspection itself is a big job: It takes days of preparation and only specially-trained engineers can complete the work.
The price tag? More than $4 million, but utility officials said it’s a small price to pay to ensure the line is in good condition well into the future.
"AWWU's total plant and service is about $7.9 billion worth of plant replacement value,” Nuss said. “If it all blew up today, it would cost $7.9 billion to replace that."
So while it might be expensive, a cold glass of water or hot shower at the end of the day is priceless.