Monitoring and Planning for Rehabilitating Aging Infrastructure in Houston (Source: ASCE Texas Section)

Jun 24, 2024

By Benjamin McCray, PE, and Joseph Wager, EIT

Hundreds of miles of large diameter water transmission lines are buried underground in the greater Houston area. Several of these critical lines, and even fewer that have suffered previous catastrophic failures disrupting services to key areas of the city, remain in service today. This has been made possible through the City’s flexibility with contracting bid packages and developing new transmission line projects that include rehabilitation to adjacent or other impacted lines at the same time.

This effort is best exemplified by the “SWTP 72-inch Water Line from Emancipation to Tuam” project, a collaboration between the City of Houston Public Works Department and Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, Inc., (LAN), which recently won the Texas American Public Works Association (APWA) Project of the Year Award for Environment. Over $48 million were budgeted for the project, with approximately $1.5 million dedicated to rehabilitating a key 60-inch water line that is instrumental in providing water to areas in and around the downtown Houston area. These funds are vital in continuing to monitor and maintain this older line, and as Panduranga Kuruva, managing engineer with City of Houston’s Capital Projects discusses, “It is an extensive task of rehabilitating transmission mains, especially prestressed concrete cylinder pipe (PCCP) lines. It involves a complicated balance of identifying the defects and methods of repair, the best time to shut down the line, the availability of specialty contractors to do the work, funding and planning the repairs while safeguarding the water supply with consistent pressures to deliver to the Houston community.”