Officials say they know the cost of a water main break in Redding last week keeps adding up, but they don't have a final number yet.
A key 18-inch transmission main blew around 6:00 a.m. Feb. 14 at the intersection of Shasta Street and Magnolia Avenue, west of downtown. The Department of Public Works estimates nearly two million gallons of water were lost. That is more than two Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water.
“Most of the cost is going to be labor, because you've got water crews out there, storm drain crews, and streets crews,” said Asst. Public Works Director Jon McClain. “Even the sewer crews had to be called out to cut a piece of the sewer pipe out to make clearance for the water line.”
The Public Works Department says in addition to the labor costs, the city's Risk Management department will also pay for temporary housing for the evacuees, replacement of belongings, and repair work to the homes.
There was significant flooding to several residents at a nearby apartment complex. The efforts on solving that issue can be extensive and costly.
"I have two vendors working on doing the clean up and they will itemize all of the contents that was damaged,” said Redding Risk Manager Chris Carmona. “They will take in and restore what items and salvage what items they can. Then we will work up work orders on what type of repairs need to be done after the fact. At this point we have no idea [of the cost]."
They also aren't sure how long it will take but they are estimating 4-6 weeks. “There's a lot of man hours involved in the fix,” said McClain.
The Public Works Department says the main broke as a result of "aging infrastructure" and "deficient construction." They say keeping track of all the pipes underground can be difficult, with roughly 550 miles of water line under the city streets. About 20 percent of that piping is 60 years and older.
The pipe that broke is not even 40 years old which means it would not have been targeted in the city's scheduled pipe replacement program. The program has a $1.5 million budget, but is geared toward piping that is more than 70 years old. That program’s budget will be bumped up to about $6 million in the next decade as the infrastructure continues to age.
This particular piping was not considered a high risk area before it broke. McClain said critical facilities like hospitals, schools, and police or fire stations dictate the risk factor. High risk areas get the first look when it comes to needed repairs.