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The City of St. Augustine remains committed to providing accessibility to all and provides for handicapped accessible parking in the city. For a map of accessible parking locations, Click Here To notify the city regarding accessibility concerns contact Todd Grant, Public Works Deputy Director, Phn: 904.825.1040, Fax: 904.209.4286, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also write City of St. Augustine, P.O. Box 210, St. Augustine, FL 32085-0210.
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The City of St. Augustine remains committed to providing clean and safe drinking water. For the previous year's sampling results please click here. To notify the city regarding water treatment concerns contact: Patrick Timoney, Water Treatment Plant Supervisor, Phn: 904.825.1044, Fax: 904.823-2280, Email: email@example.com; or firstname.lastname@example.org, or write the City of St. Augustine, P.O. Box 210, St. Augustine, FL 32085-0210.
When a city’s public safety responsibilities are discussed, many immediately think of fire services and police protection, but may not think about water systems. Perhaps it is because one is so visible, they are above ground so to speak, while the other - water - really is out of sight and underground.
Yet, when there are challenges to the water delivery system, whether it’s a disruption in service because of a water line break, or a discoloration of the water from corrosion in the pipes, this out-of-sight system is no longer taken for granted.
The City of St. Augustine delivers three million gallons of water per day to more than 10,000 utility customers through a complex and intricate delivery system that includes more than 200 miles of pipe. That system, managed by a team of skilled professionals, ensures that every home, restaurant, school and hotel room receives quality water at the moment it is needed.
The city’s utility system, like every other municipal or private utility system, demands constant monitoring and an ongoing program of repairs and upgrades in order to maintain reliability and quality, and St. Augustine’s water supply meets all regulations in place from state and federal agencies (Click here to read the city’s most recent Water Report).
St. Augustine’s most recent challenges have included its aging distribution systems and the buildup of sediment from under utilized water lines. In some cases the color or sediment may be linked to the type of pipes in the household. Any homes with galvanized service pipes should be replaced with PVC or use of a household filter is recommended. City staff can assist in determining the source of the sediment. (Click here to read Iron in Water, a very informative piece.)
Of course, the best way to improve the quality and delivery of water system-wide is to replace aging pipes as soon as possible, but the expense of replacing large segments of the system has been prohibitive. Until now.
Substantial funding has become available simply by the city refinancing utility bonds, a restructuring that will realize approximately $4 million over the next three years, funds which will be reinvested in utility system upgrades. And, in the meantime the city has already initiated aggressive and immediate actions to maintain water quality throughout the system.
Addressing the challenge of “red water,” water that has become tainted because of corrosive pipes, is the city’s first priority regarding water quality. Usually clear water “goes red” when water moves through corroded or turberculated pipes at a higher velocity than usual or in the direction opposite its normal flow. The faster rushing water stirs up sediment within the pipers producing discolored water. For this reason every effort is made to notify residents and businesses in a particular area when a change in water flow is expected, such as when fire hydrants are checked by running a large volume or water through them.
Since “flushing” of waterlines is necessary for the health and maintenance of the distribution system, the Public Works Department is introducing a more systematic and controlled method for line flushing called unidirectional flushing. The idea is simple: since flushing water lines removes sediment, use flushing as a way to reduce the amount of sediment by removing it. No sediment means no red water. Unidirectional flushing requires a complete knowledge of the water distribution network and the installation of strategically placed valves so that flushing is managed in a carefully controlled manner. The implementation of this new procedure will go a long way towards improving water quality.
In addition to the challenge of corroded pipes is the challenge created by underutilized parts of the system, called “dead-ends.” Such areas have too few customers to maintain a steady flow of water through the line, so the disinfecting properties of the water is lessened as the water simply sits in the pipe for an extended period of time. In these locations, flush valves help keep the water flowing so as to keep water quality high and reduce water aging
The city currently has a program that includes flushing on a regular basis as well as flushing on an as-needed basis in specific areas, but there are plans to expand the program and increase its effectiveness by eliminating dead-ends and improving the valve system to better control where and when flushing occurs.
There has been concern expressed by some who are not familiar with the benefits of flushing water lines when they witness water flowing from a hydrant and view it as wasteful. In actuality, the amount of water used in this way, which is within acceptable limit, is reported to the St. Johns River Water Management District.
One step taken to reach the best solution as soon as possible came about through a cost-share agreement with the St. Johns River Water Management District to complete a $182,500 project that will greatly increase the city’s knowledge regarding water usage, i.e. how much is used and in what locations is it used. This increased information will provide data very helpful in getting to know the customer base and patterns of water use.
An immediate result of this initiative was identification of three actions that would reduce the amount of flushing required and reduce water age specifically in the northern portions of the city’s service area. The first two suggestions have already been completed:
1. abandon approximately 1,700 lineal feet of 16” water main that is unused;
2. install flush valves on a water main in the neighborhoods near Ronald Road;
Venetian Blvd. and Old Dixie; and
3. construct approximately 1,000 lineal feet of a water main as a loop to eliminate the
problem associated with dead-ends.
If there are any questions about this program or other utility related issues, please contact Public Works at 904.825.1040.