A large water main that runs under the Great Miami River broke, cutting water service to much of Montgomery County. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

Dayton to replace nearly century old water main in river

After a nearly catastrophic water main break earlier this year, the city of Dayton will replace a water main in the river that is about a century old and approaching the end of its useful life, officials said.

Water mains under the Great Miami River have long been a high-priority for the city, even before a widespread water outage that occurred in February when a large pipe in the river burst, said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.

“We want to be proactive in replacing this particular piece, given the problems we had in our February water main break,” she said.

MORE: ‘Nearly catastrophic’ break a glimpse of vulnerabilities to Dayton area’s water

The Dayton City Commission has approved an almost $1.1 million contract with Sunesis Construction to replace a 24-inch water main under the Great Miami River.

The water main, located between Cincinnati Street and Arbor Boulevard, dates back to 1922, city documents state.

Sunesis will replace about 1,141 feet of water main using horizontal directional drilling. The company will install 30- and 24-inch piping.

The Feb. 13 break, water outage and resulting boil advisory made the city take a closer look at its water-distribution system, Dickstein said. During the incident, a 30-foot section of pipe broke away.

Since February, city staff have evaluated its water infrastructure and identified aging piping that is nearing the end of its useful life, Dickstein said. The city uses that information to develop its capital-replacement work plan.

“We do these ‘white-wash’ exercises after every event so we can learn what went well, what we can improve on, what improvements can we make to enhance our resiliency for the next event,” Dickstein said.

Water pipes under the river can be particularly challenging to repair if problems arise, she said.

MORE: Dayton blames county contractor for February water outage

Workers watch the Great Miami River near the Keowee Street Bridge on Thursday morning. A large water main break late Wednesday cut water service to much of the County and most of it was restored by Thursday morning, but continued to require boiling before use. MARSHALL GORBY / STAFF
Photo: Marshall Gorby

But Dickstein said the water main that burst in February was only 28 years old and was a 36-inch concrete pipe that was supposed to have a 100-year life.

The city alleges the pipe was damaged by a contractor doing work for Montgomery County to replace the Keowee Street Bridge.

The city’s goal is to replace about 1 percent of its 800 miles of water piping every year, and criteria used to determine what to replace includes age and number of breaks, city officials said.

The Feb. 13 water outage caused headaches for residents and business owners across the city.

Alexandra Rivers, who owns Twist Cupcakery on St. Clair St. in downtown Dayton, said the break happened one day before Valentine’s Day, which is huge day for her business.

Twist was without water for multiple days, and Rivers had to bring in bottle water for baking and sanitizing supplies.

“I think sometimes we take for granted how good the quality of water is here in Dayton, and also how important it is to our every day lives,” she said.

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