Eau Claire (WQOW) - Nine million gallons of water are pumped through Eau Claire water mains each day and some of those mains are more than 100 years old. It's an issue that all cities are facing.
"We have some pieces of water main that date back to the 1880's," said Utilities Administrator Jeff Pippenger.
Before crews get to that pipe they've got to go through the concrete currently coating Eau Claire’s Galloway Street; and the original brick road.
"It’s a little piece of history,” said City Engineer Dave Solberg. “It's like opening up a time capsule out here. You see the pavers and it conjures up images of what the street used to look like 100 years ago."
A time capsule broke open by convenience.
"The street is in a state of disrepair so we have to replace it,” said Pippenger. “That time is the time to do the utilities it's more efficient and cost effective."
Being cost effective is important. According to the EPA to replace the entire nation's aging water infrastructure it would cost almost $400 billion. In Eau Claire it's millions.
"It’s amazing and it also keeps me up at night knowing the age of some of the infrastructure in the city,” Pippenger said.
While you can still find 1880's piping in the city you can only find a wooden water main at the city's treatment plant. The main was dug up in the 1990’s and was last in service in the 40's.
"It’s amazing the creativity,” Pippenger said. “It's well made and it lasted a long time."
The new main going into Galloway is expected to last past the turn of the century.
Pippenger says the oldest water mains in the city are found downtown and in some of the older residential neighborhoods like the Third Ward and Randall Park.