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Gainesville almost finished with waterline upgrades
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City of Gainesville employee Jeremy Smith, bottom, works on a piece of buried water pipe with Scotty Shelnutt on Monday morning along Buffington Farm Road. The crew upgraded the old, 2-inch galvanized with PVC pipe.

The Gainesville Public Utilities Department is closer to reaching its goal of replacing all of the city’s old water pipes.

Monday, water service was interrupted on Buffington Farm Road between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to complete water main improvements in the area.

“This is all water improvements, not repair,” said Project Manage Joel Altherr.

Altherr said the city has been working for more than 20 years to eradicate 2-inch galvanized water pipes.

“The problem with those 2-inch galvanized pipes is they found over time they corrode,” Altherr said. “We call it overlay. We’re going into where the 2-inch (galvanized) is and we’re putting in 2-inch PVC.”

Two things result from the corrosion, Altherr said.

“They rust and produce a rust-colored water. We call it red water,” he said. “If you take one of these galvanized lines and dig them up once we replace them and look at them, some of them they get these tuberculations inside, and it pretty much reduces the diameter of that 2-inch so you get less flow capacity.”

Altherr said Monday’s project was part of a long line of similar projects to improve water service.

“We’re at 90-some percent at having them all eradicated,” said. “We’ll soon have them all replaced.”

The project is funded using money from the Georgia Environmental Facilities Authority, known as GEFA.

An added benefit of replacing the pipes is adding fire hydrants, Altherr said.

“The fire protection, I love to see that where it hasn’t been before because it helps people’s insurance rates come down,” he said. “To me personally it’s a real good feeling. I feel more like a civil servant, going out and improving water quality.”

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