Water Leaks On the Rise

Aging water pipes and infrastructure has led to a spike in water leaks throughout the community.

Last week, there was a spike in water leak reports received by the Department of Public Works. The amount of failed service repairs is not a reason for alarm and is attributable to the maturation of the city’s infrastructure. Public Works maintenance workers are doing their best to respond to these issues without disrupting or inconveniencing the public. We appreciate your understanding and patience during the construction of water service replacements.

Water services fail for a variety of reasons including ground shifting and movement (expansion and contraction), corrosion, material defects, initial workmanship and design life of infrastructure. Over the years, the city has taken steps to minimize several of these contributing factors that cause water services to fail prematurely. The city’s construction standards specify high quality materials and construction techniques that, under most circumstances, all but eliminate premature water service failure from corrosion, ground movement and workmanship. 

The design life of a water service and most underground infrastructure is approximately 50 years. Considering that Rohnert Park is now 50 years old, and that there are about 9,000 water service connections in Rohnert Park, we should expect about 200 water service failures per year. 

The financial impact of our maturing infrastructure is significant. To put this into perspective, water service failures spiked to a record high of nine failures in 1988 for the entire year. The nine water service failures in 1988 turned out not to be a spike, but actually marked the beginning of a trend where water service failures steadily increased with the age of the city. Since this time, we have now reached a water service failure rate (frequency) equal to the design life expectancy.

The City performs water service replacement with city staff – Public Works maintenance workers assigned to water distribution. Typically four staff members are needed to perform a complete water service replacement. Basic steps include:

  • Underground utility location.
  • Customer notification and coordination
  • Excavation.
  • Installation.
  • Disinfection
  • Drench compaction.
  • Repaving.

City staff has taken several steps to minimize cost and impact to the public. Most notably, staff uses a unique method of “pulling” the new water service through the existing service trench, thereby minimizing the amount of street excavation needed and disruption to the public.

We rely heavily on and appreciate the community’s help in reporting water leaks so we can quickly respond and provide our services. If you need to report a water leak, please call us at 707-588-3300.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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