WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The city of Wichita said that they are conducting further testing on a 42-inch pipe that failed and led to a water pressure loss last week.
During a press conference, Alan King, Wichita’s director of Public Works & Utilities, said the pipe had been replaced, the hole backfilled, and the line has been disinfected. However, the line hasn’t been put back into service.
“The repaired section of pipe will be pressure tested, and we will put it at a very high pressure to see if it is able to hold,” said King.
The city is also working to see how the section of pipe failed. However, it was installed in 1969, so it wasn’t relatively old.
“The failed section of pipe is being actually tested, what they call a forensic test to see what happened to the pipe, how it failed, what were the conditions of the pipe that led up to failure,” said King
Also, the soil around the pipe will be tested for corrosivity.
“It is in the section of the freeway that is salted with brine,” said King. “We want to know if there is chloride salt in the soil, which can sometimes accelerate deterioration.”
King said specialized equipment would be brought in to examine the pipe’s wire cage. If more damage is found, the city will replace the line. He added that he hopes to have test results in the next week or two.
Each year, the city spends $10 million on water line replacement. Meanwhile, work continues at the new Wichita Water Plant located near Zoo Boulevard and I-235. It is scheduled to be complete by 2024.
As for the current plant, King stressed it performed how it was designed, and a power issue was to blame in the pump shut down, causing a surge in water pressure and the pipe to burst.
As for electricity at the plant, he said backup generators are turned on before expected electrical storms, so the city doesn’t have to rely on power.