Union looks to solve town water issues
County officials say they’re doing what they can to address water problems in the town of Weddington. Last week, UCW covered a report from the Providence Fire Department, which outlined the fact that out of 115 hydrants they tested Jan. 9, nine were inoperable and 84 had inadequate water pressure. Now Public Works officials say they’re taking steps to fix the damaged hydrants, while looking at the larger water pressure problems facing the town.
“Over the past six months or so, UCPW has been having internal discussions about ways to promote better information exchange with our county’s (fire departments) as well as ways to better ensure the proper operation and maintenance of the 5,000 hydrants located throughout the water distribution system,” Public Works Assistant Director Mark Tye wrote in a Monday, Feb. 6 memo.
Tye said that Public Works is working on repairing the damaged hydrants. The nine damaged hydrants include one on Elsmore Drive with a major leak at the bonnet, another on Keegan Court with a steamer cap leaking and a third on Bromley Drive, where a masonry wall had been built too close for the fire trucks to access the hydrant. Additional problems include a loose fitting on a Providence Road hydrant, shrubs planted around the hydrant on Worthington Drive and a low ground clearance for the hydrant on Willow Trace Lane.
In his memo, Tye said the steamer cap had been replaced for the hydrant on Keegan Court, while the gasket has since been replaced for the hydrant on Elsmore Drive. Risers were ordered for the hydrants on Willow Trace Lane and Weddington Matthews Road. The Weddington Matthews riser has since been installed, while Tye estimated the one on Willow Trace would be in place by Feb. 9. Currently Public Works officials are looking at ways of fixing the shrubbery and masonry wall problems as well, Tye said.
Currently, 18 percent of Weddington’s 73 subdivisions have fire hydrants. Of the town’s subdivisions, 60 of the 73 use only well water. Previously however, water pressure problems were mostly limited to the northern part of the town, where pressure during the low demand portions of the day barely meets the minimum requirements for fire departments to use hydrants. At peak demand times, there’s no guarantee the hydrants would have enough pressure to pump out the water. The Providence report showed that’s a problem across the entire town now, with low pressure hydrants near the Highgate subdivision, town hall and the commercial district. Tye said that Public Works ran multiple simulations and found that each of the hydrants should have adequate water pressure to operate.
“The Fire Hydrant report provided pressure readings recorded while hydrants were flowing,” Tye said. “These pressures are helpful in the fact that they can be used to estimate flow. A (hydrant) will flow approximately 1060 (gallons per minute) at 40 (pounds per-square-inch), 920 gallons at 30 psi, 750 gallons at 20 psi and 530 gallons at 10 psi.”
Under the Public Works simulations, Tye said, using a pressure of 20 pounds per-square-inch, most of the service area hydrants would have available flows of between 1,500 and 3,500 gallons per minute. In a few of the lower pressure areas, the simulation predicted available flows between 500 and 1,500 gallons per minute.
“While these flows are adequate for the type structures in (the) service area, they will be enhanced with the start-up of the planned Weddington tank.”
New options coming for water tank?
A proposed site for the water tower was rejected by the Weddington town council in November after more than a year of discussions between the town and county. The water tower was scheduled to be built at 247 Providence Road South, part of a 9 acre lot. Public Works officials wanted to use the 1.5 million gallon tower to improve static pressure and fire flow in the western portion of Union County during peak demand. Residents complained that it would be an eyesore and not safe for their kids to be around. County officials hope to have additional options for a tower location ready for discussion later this month.
“Public Works will be bringing site evaluations for water towers to the Board of County Commissioners on Feb. 20,” County Public Information Director Brett Vines said.