Local News

City of Raleigh works to repair aging water, sewer lines following sinkhole

Posted June 1

— City leaders believe a sinkhole that opened up Wednesday on W. Millbrook Road in Raleigh was the result of old infrastructure and they’re racing to fix the problem before it fails completely.

The sinkhole, which is expected to be repaired by June 5, was caused by a failure in a sewer pipe. Raleigh averages a break per day in its nearly 4,800 mile long water and sewer system, and city leaders are working hard to prevent them.

“We think it can be an issue related to aging and deteriorating,” said construction projects administrator Eileen Navarrete.

Navarrete, with the Raleigh Utilities Department, said the sewer line that caused the hole in Millbrook Road was built in the 1950s.

A large number of old pipes run underneath Raleigh. The oldest waterline still in use is thought to have been built in the 1880s.

“They built pipes differently at that time,” Navarrete said.

Most failures in the system are inside Raleigh’s beltline, which is the older part of the city.

“We can’t prevent all of these failures,” Navarrete said.

City of Raleigh works to repair aging water, sewer lines following sinkhole

The city is now working to get ahead of potential failures, in some cases sending cameras underground to spot cracks and collapses. In recent years, officials have made big investments in replacement or rehabilitation of water and sewer lines before failures occur.

“Asset management. Over the next 10 years, we are investing almost $400 million,” Navarrete said.

Pipes that are most important to the overall system and older pipes get highest priority.

“These are the ones that rise to the top,” Navarrete said. “Then we can prioritize what we need to rehab and replace.”

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