Mount Gilead Town Commissioners had their regular monthly meeting last night.
During the course of the night’s business, it was learned that the town is proceeding with the replacement of an aged water main along Main Street. Town Manager Katrina Tatum says portions of the system are reported to date back many decades.
“One arm of the pipes has not been replaced since 1933,” said Tatum. “The other arm, South Main, has not been replaced since 1953.”
Tatum said some of the iron pipes have deteriorated to the point that town workers have fallen through them while making repairs. Another concern with the existing lines is the presence of asbestos cement pipes. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says the decay of asbestos cement water mains is a major source of asbestos in drinking water, and that prolonged ingestion of the asbestos fibers can increase the risk of benign intestinal polyps. The Town Manager said regular testing shows the levels are still safe, but there is an growing presence of the fibers in the town’s lines.
Another issue with asbestos cement, or “AC”, pipe is that its design can lead to larger repairs as it fails through natural deterioration.
Tatum said, “Because AC pipe is made with a seam in it, when there is a crack, a lot of times you don’t just repair where the leak is. You have to chase that seam because it’s going to keep on leaking. We chased the seam more than 200 feet, and we had to replace 200 feet of pipe. That was on the upper part of Main Street.”
The town is moving forward with replacement of the water main, and is studying the possibility of alternate routes for the line. The project could result in a water rate increase, and Mayor Patty Almond refused to sign project papers on behalf of the town because of that possibility. Mayor Pro-Tem Tim McAuley was authorized by the commissioners to sign those documents.