DeLand’s many miles of aging water mains — some of which date from the 1940s — are still in good condition, DeLand’s Public Services Director Keith Riger said, despite a dramatic break that occurred underneath an intersection near Downtown DeLand Jan. 25.
According to Riger, such catastrophic failures are not common, and are more likely to occur in service lines, the smaller lines that run from the big water mains to houses or businesses.
“Most breaks involve service-line breaks or are the result of vehicles hitting hydrants or contractors digging in the area of the mains,” he said. “At this point, we believe our old mains have many years of useful life left, and we do not replace them unless we know they are a problem.”
DeLand’s core water system is primarily made up of iron water-main pipes that are between 60 and 80 years old, but both the water in the pipes and the soil surrounding them help prevent corrosion, according to Riger.
“These lines are constructed of thick cast iron or ductile iron,” Riger said. “[The] soils in that area are typically not corrosive, so the mains don’t deteriorate much from the outside. They are typically cement-lined.”
The city has added corrosion inhibitors to city water since at least the 1980s, Riger said. Before that, soda ash, a water-softening agent with similar corrosion-inhibiting properties, was used.
New lines — those installed from around 1970 on — are constructed of highly durable plastic polymers, like PVC.
The city spends $1 million to $2 million annually on waterline improvements, including looping projects and pipeline replacement for undersized or leaky lines.
AGE IS JUST A NUMBER — This map shows the age of DeLand’s water pipes.