A hidden network of pipes under Charlotte carry the city’s water - how are they kept safe?

A hidden network of pipes under Charlotte carry the city’s water - how are they kept safe?

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Remember seeing chunks of asphalt flow down Freedom Drive outside of Uptown Charlotte after a water main break?

It happened near the intersection of Morehead Street in June.

Residents in the area called it a ‘river.’

So what happened with that break? Could it happen to other pipes in town, maybe near your home?

Right now Charlotte Water crews are out working on a pipe that is the same age as the one that broke.

Blades are spinning to get down through asphalt to old pipes.

A hidden network of pipes under Charlotte carry the city’s water

‘We have over 8,500 miles of pipe, for water and waste water. Half of that is water, that’s enough to stretch from here to Alaska,’ said Cam Coley, spokesperson for Charlotte Water.

Coley has worked with the Charlotte Water team for decades.

He said since he's started you may have noticed a new focus for water team.

“People have seen us in the oldest neighborhoods for the past 20 years going through the oldest pipes that have served Charlotte well for the last 70-100 years,” said Coley.

That age may seem old to you for a pipe. The pipes are hidden underground all along the streets we drive each day, so you might not think about them until there is a water main break.

The water main that broke on Freedom Drive and caused this was from the 1930s.

So we asked Charlotte Water, are there other pipes like that one? They took us to Central Avenue.

“We have a pipe that was built in the 1930s and it’s at the end of it’s life,” said Coley. “Once we did the research to find this isn’t a simple repair it’s a full project we need to do, it’s not one location it’s several blocks.”

So out come the cones, workers and saws to repair this pipe and try to prevent breaks.

Charlotte Water says they're putting in a new lining in the pipe that will extend it's life.

“We can invest that time and money to prevent water main breaks,” said Coley.

Charlotte Water says there are about 800 miles of drinking water pipes in town that were installed before 1960.

Most of those are in older neighborhoods.

If you live in an older neighborhood, Charlotte Water says you might see them out slicing up your street, working proactively there are no water main breaks outside your home.

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