Pasadena Emergency Waterline Repair Project

Project Background

Pasadena, a Houston metropolitan area city, owns and operates a 24-inch waterline that provides potable water to the City of Seabrook and several surrounding municipalities. An urgent need arose when the waterline developed a leak. Without this critical repair, existing water pressure in the pipe would result in catastrophic damage to the waterline and loss of precious potable water. The City of Pasadena hired HVJ for Civil Engineering Design services, including developing the design, routing it to the agencies with jurisdiction in the project area, and coordinating with the contractor throughout the construction process.

Practice: Civil and Engineering Design

Sector: Water

Location: Pasadena, Texas

Services: Waterline Design, Construction Management

Pasadena Waterline Emergency Repair Feature-1

The Problem

The 24-inch waterline owned by the City of Pasadena is the only source of potable water for several area municipalities. Though part of the waterline was in good condition, at the Northern end of the bridge across Taylor Lake Bayou, the existing steel waterline was exposed without proper coating. The problem dates back many years, as the waterline is close to the bridge and the underground pipe section had not been rehabilitated since its installation in 1989. Thus, the pipe became compromised by corrosion from continuous wave activity of Taylor Lake which includes tidal influence of the Gulf of Mexico. The water leak was estimated at about 300 gallons per minute, resulting in a substantial revenue loss to the city. Residents who depended on this water experienced considerably reduced water pressure and could not meet all their needs, such as filling elevated water tanks.

The Goal

The City of Pasadena needed to rehabilitate the pipe quickly to restore water pressure and prevent catastrophic damage to the pipe. It was essential for residents served by the waterline to have consistent, accessible water for their daily needs and critical services such as firefighting. Our goal was to achieve this by preparing Civil Engineering Design plans and profile drawings for repairing the leaking waterline, obtaining necessary permits for the construction process, and coordinating with the contractor throughout the process. Due to the substantial impact on a wide range of stakeholders, it was essential for us to use a well-coordinated and informative process during each stage of the project.

Our Solution

We first provided clear, open communication so that everyone impacted would be informed of the upcoming construction activities. For example, customers needed to be notified and prepared for a reduction in water pressure and usage during work. Our team conducted a thorough review of the waterline’s as-built drawings to ensure the full consideration of all affected stakeholders. We held a pre-construction meeting that allowed for open communication, particularly in planning for a 24-hour water shut-off during construction. We also coordinated with agencies that had jurisdiction in the area, including the Harris County Flood Control District and the Texas Department of Transportation, to obtain work authorization.

We weighed several repair options, with the goal of an economical design solution that was constructable and provided the least water supply disruption to residents served by the waterline. Based on these factors and the corrosive nature of steel pipe from the tidally influenced lake water, our solution was a restrained ductile iron pipe, which would be resistant to future corrosion from seawater exposure. During the construction process, about 40 lf of steel pipe was removed and replaced with restrained ductile iron pipe. After the new pipe was connected, the contractor placed concrete thrust blocks to ensure ample support for the new pipe. We collaborated closely with the contractor and continually monitored the construction activities until the project’s completion. As explained by Houston Civil Services Manager Daya Dayananda, "We are thankful for all the agencies, city officials and contractors who worked together with us to complete this project so quickly and smoothly.”

The Results

Our Civil Engineering Design recommendations ensured the pipe was rehabilitated with ductile iron pipe and resistant to future corrosion. Once the construction was complete, the line was flushed and dechlorinated. We collected samples to ensure there were no contaminants before resuming water supply. We were able to minimize water disruption to residents by completing the construction process in only 12 hours, with an additional 12 hours to complete sampling protocols. As an extra safety measure, the city issued residents and businesses with a boil-water notice for a period of three days, but overall, we were able to work with the contractor and complete all repairs and sampling so that water flow was disrupted for no more than one day.

Our team’s collaborative process and open communication with stakeholders were essential to this project’s success. The team was sensitive to the needs of residents and provided ample information so they could prepare for reduced water usage during the construction process. A well-coordinated experience is a core value at HVJ, as we are committed to both technical success and our customer’s experience during the process.

Share this story