Planned repair and replacement of Elkhart's aging water mains will expand further into town, thanks to a recent Department of Agriculture grant, Elkhart city officials say.
Elkhart public works employees have been preparing to break ground on a $2.5 million infrastructure project, scheduled to begin shortly after the holidays. The project was recently infused with $275,000, thanks to a grant Elkhart city officials applied for more than a year ago.
The $2.5 million is from a bond unanimously approved of by city council two months ago.
“We already planned on replacing all the water mains in town,” City Administrator Judith Cantrell told the Herald-Press Wednesday. “Having this extra money means we will be able to expand out into the neighborhoods, and begin replacing lines there.”
Quality and pressure have been the main issue with city water, Cantrell said. Although it's always been safe to drink, the current system is ill-equipped to handle the load.
With nearly 1,000 connections, the current water mains, some made of concrete and steel, and dating back nearly 80 years, already sustain too little pressure for state standards.
The improvements, Cantrell said, will not only bring the city into compliance with Texas Commission on Environmental Quality standards, it will give Elkhart room to grow for new businesses and residents.
“None of the mains are over six-inches,” Cantrell said. “The PVC pipes we're using to replace them will be up to 10-inches, providing better pressure and better quality water.”
Cantrell warned residents be aware that with increased pressure, however, comes increased sediment freed from the near-century-old pipes.
“We're replacing all of the mains, but not all at once,” she said. “Sediment and silt from the old mains, as well as from personal water lines at residents' homes is most likely going to be forced through residential faucets.”
Residents should change their water filters, and flush their water heaters, Cantrell said, to avoid blockage, or poor-quality water.
If Elkhart water ever becomes unsafe to drink, city officials will notify residents immediately.
City administrator for less than a year, Cantrell said she is happy to be taking positive strides, both with, and for, Elkhart.
“I'm excited to be part of the team that is giving the residents the water service they deserve,” she said. “We'll have less disruption in services, and less boil notices as time goes by.”