Construction work along San Marco Avenue in St. Augustine is part of a multi-million-dollar effort to improve water quality and reduce water main breaks, city officials said.
Two projects are actually underway: crews are replacing water pipes along San Marco Avenue and in the Fullerwood neighborhood which is off San Marco Avenue.
Public Works Director Martha Graham said in 2017 that these projects were part of the city’s efforts to combat red-water, which can happen when the city’s old metal pipes corrode.
But eliminating red water isn’t the only purpose of the projects.
Officials also hope that water flow and pressure will improve and that there will be fewer water main breaks and patches in the road, Graham said.
“(The San Marco main) was a very old main and it was the source of a lot of issues for us in the North City area,” Graham said.
The replacement at least for the San Marco Avenue project is being handled with a method called pipe bursting which is less disruptive to surrounding infrastructure than other methods, said Marcus Pinson, city utility plant engineer who’s managing the projects.
“You basically pull a brand new pipe through an old host pipe which is our existing pipe,” he said.
The San Marco Avenue project is replacing cast iron pipe with a bigger PVC pipe from Cincinnati Avenue to Picolata Road, according to the Capital Improvement Plan. It will likely benefit more than 1,000 water customers, including residences, a church and a hotel, Graham said.
“The aging cast iron main has experienced numerous breaks and is pitted and corroded, which is a potential source of sedimentation in water mains in the north city area,” according to the plan.
The cost of the San Marco Avenue project, including design, is expected to be than $3.1 million, according to the city’s Capital Improvement Plan.
The Fullerwood project, which will also replace metal pipes with PVC, is expected to benefit about 150 residences and one church, Graham said.
The cost for the Fullerwood project, including design, is expected to cost more than $1.8 million, according to the city’s Capital Improvement Plan.
Crews should be done with both projects in March or April, Graham said. Other water main replacements are also planned in the northern part of the city, but contracts haven’t been arranged for those yet, she said.
If people notice red water problems after these fixes, they should call the city, Graham said. Another thing people should know is that water service will be disrupted during work, but crews will let customers know in advance, she said.