Minnesota’s city leaders are rushing to replace the state’s aging infrastructure with a focus on many cities’ aging water pipes and sewer systems. City leaders across the state have had to deal with a lack of funding to repair systems that have undergone routine patches to keep them operational.
Cracking water pipes have caused Daniel Berg, utility supervisor in Duluth, to have to deal with hundreds of repairs in recent years. Nearly 300 leaks have been patched underneath streets, with city officials not able to replace aging systems fast enough.
Berg states that the city is replacing just 1 – 1.5 miles of pipes per year.
Minnesota’s cities need $11 billion over the next 20 years, with legislation infusing just $122 million into water projects last year. Local funding is also helping to replace piping, putting the costs on consumers through larger bills. The state’s infrastructure dates back to the 1930s and 1940s with a dire need for replacement.
Cities are also focusing on cleaner water options. Water quality standards are also forcing many cities to upgrade their facilities.
Mayors and city officials are working to promptly replace older systems to avoid costlier repairs in the future. Standard changes and rising labor costs are a concern for many cities that are struggling to get the funding needed to replace sewer pipe lining, pipes and complete systems.
Water main breaks are common around Minnesota cities. Stinson Boulevard’s water main break caused an entire block to remain closed through November 24. Thousands of gallons of water flowed out of the 48-inch water main between Broadway and Summer Street.
Rosemount Middle School had to dismiss students early in April due to a broken water line in the school’s parking lot. Transportation for students that are bused to school was provided, but students that are given rides to school by their parents had to leave work or make arrangements to have their kids picked up.
The City of Barre suffered a water main break in July. The major water main break impacted water service in the northeast part of the city, with repairs estimated to take 12 hours to complete. The water main broke around 6 p.m. when many of the city’s residents were returning home from work. City officials urged residents to drink bottled water as crews worked to repair the broken water main.
Duluth city is dealing with several issues related to the water system, which was first laid in the late 1800s. Many buildings have grounded electricity lines to the aging pipes, which has caused some portions of the pipes to erode faster than others.
Pipe repairs cost $5,000 – $7,000 on average, with crews having to rely on reports of a burst to find leaks in the city.
City officials state that the aging sewer systems have been “out of sight, out of mind.” Cities across the state have been dealing with delays for too long. Residents often don’t realize that there are any issues with the city’s sewer infrastructure until they lose water pressure and call the city to report the problem.