Wednesday, July 24, 2024

What Atlanta is doing to prevent another water crisis

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More than a month after multiple water main breaks sent Atlanta into a water crisis, several members of the Atlanta City Council met on Tuesday with the Department of Watershed Management and other city leaders on efforts underway to fix Atlanta’s aging water infrastructure. 

“The $1.4 billion investment is a start, but we recognize that there’s more opportunities to upgrade our facilities,” said Atlanta Department of Watershed Management Commissioner Al Wiggins, Jr. 

The Capital Improvement Plan has been in the works for years, well before the main breaks in Vine City and Midtown. In the weeks since those massive breaks, Atlanta created a water advisory committee. It is also doing an assessment of the entire system with the help of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The city says some of the pipes are at least 100 years old. 

Aging water infrastructure in Atlanta

A water main break at Joseph E. Boone Blvd. NW and James P. Brawley Dr. NW forced a citywide water outage on May 31, 2024. (FOX 5)

The City of Atlanta says while water main breaks are trending down, what happened a few weeks ago cannot happen again. They are now beginning a decades-long effort to upgrade water infrastructure in the city. 

“It is an assessment of our current drinking water system. You saw the inventory of age of pipes, but that does not directly correlate to the condition of those pipes,” said Peter Aman, the City of Atlanta Chief Strategy Officer. 

The city says that assessment is ongoing but will take a year and a half to complete. 

SEE ALSO: How much money did the Atlanta water crisis cost local businesses?

Once done, it will figure out if and when certain pipes will be dug up and replaced. 

“The whole system does not need to be replaced depending on the pipes,” Aman said. “You can have a 75-year lifespan on a pipe or greater.” 

A second major water main break, this time on 11th Street at West Peachtree Road in Midtown Atlanta, on May 31, 2024.

A second major water main break, this time on 11th Street at West Peachtree Road in Midtown Atlanta, on May 31, 2024. (FOX 5)

Atlanta infrastructure capital improvement plan

Since the big main breaks a few weeks ago, the city says it is already incorporating lessons learned. The goal going forward is to make sure Atlanta is prepared for the future. 

“This is a problem that has been a long time in the making and so, while it is not a problem that this council or this administration created, it is our problem collectively to resolve,” Aman said. 

Tuesday’s meeting came just hours after the deadline for businesses impacted by the water main breaks to apply for assistance. The city says it is now sifting through the more than 500 applications to get funding out as quickly as possible. 

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