According to Hamilton Journal News on August 23rd:
The city of Fairfield will spend at least $3 million to upgrade its aging water infrastructure in the near future, while at the same time striving to keep its water and sewer rates low.
“Our biggest challenge by far is replacement of failing water mains in the city,” said public utilities Director Adam Sackenheim, adding that the pipes installed from the 1950s through the 1970s are nearing the end of their life expectancy of 75 years.
Those cast-iron pipes suffer from poor installation and corrosive soils, he said.
Of the city’s 170 total miles of pipes, 110 miles is comprised of the outdated piping. The result has been a surge in water main breaks, particularly along Pleasant Avenue. The total number of breaks has nearly doubled, from 25 per 100 miles in 2003 to 45 per 100 miles this year.
The goal is to have no more than 15 breaks per 100 miles per year, according to Sackenheim.
The city’s original water treatment plant was built in 1956, with a capacity at that time of .75 million gallons per day. Now, the water treatment plant, built in 1983 and expanded in 2000, has a maximum capacity of 9.1 million gallons of water a day, said Eddy. The average usage is about 5 million gallons a day, flowing through 170 miles of water mains and serving 13,500 accounts, about 12,000 of which are residential and 1,400 of which are commercial.
Ideally, the city would replace 110 miles of pipe by the year 2055, with a goal of replacing 2.75 miles of pipe per year. The new pipes can last from 100 to 500 years, said Andy Eddy, the city’s water superintendent.
In the last six years, the city has replaced only two miles of pipe, he said.
Instead, the city will focus on 14 high-risk areas, which are mostly in the north and central sections of Fairfield, Sackenheim said. That cost is expected to be at least $3.5 million, he added.
“We’ll probably have to take on additional debt in order to address our infrastructure issues … we do have needs we’re going to have to address if we want to maintain the health of the system,” said City Manager Mark Wendling.
Fairfield’s original water distribution network was installed in the 50s and 60s, making it between 50 and 60 years old. Before Fairfield became a city in 1955, water was purchased from Hamilton, said Andy Eddy, the city’s water superintendent.
Already in 2011, the city replaced 2,700 feet of water main along Ohio 4, and 2,400 feet of water main on Resor Road. Earlier this year, the city replaced 2,500 feet of water main on Pleasant and 1,200 feet of main north of Port Union Road, Eddy said.
The city aims to make the repairs while keeping a lid on water rates. In the annual survey of water rates, Fairfield has the lowest combined water/sewer rates in all of Butler County, at $164.52 over a three-month period for 22,500 gallons of use. By the same measurements, the city of Hamilton pays $245.70.
On the average, Fairfield’s water rates have increased about 3 percent a year over the last 20 years. Whereas the total monthly bill was $32.85 in 2000 based on 7,500 gallons of usage, it is now $57.09, according to Sackenheim. From 1996 to 2008, there were no rater rate increases, he said.
The city will commence a new rate study in the summer of 2016. The goal is to have the water department be debt-free by 2018, and the wastewater department to be debt free by 2020. Through all this, the goal is to keep the rates stable, Sackenheim said.
“What we need to do is pay attention to this and invest in our systems. The last thing I want to do is generate legacy problems,” he said.