In 2017, Lynchburg had 8 water main breaks in downtown

In the Water Resources Museum, there are pipes on display dating back to 1800s

By Magdala Louissaint - Lynchburg Bureau Reporter

LYNCHBURG, Va. - Derek Hart and his family have lived on Seventh Street for about a year. He, his neighbors, and a business went without water for about a day earlier this week because of a water main break.

"I was just surprised by how old they were. It's amazing to know that some of these pipes were here for close to 200 years. I had no idea that type of infrastructure was used back then. I think it's real interesting that it's just now being updated. But I'm glad they're doing it,” Hart said.

"The waterline that broke on Seventh Street this is a section of pipeline from another location. You can see it was installed in 1829,” said Tim Mitchell, director of water resource for Lynchburg.

In the water resources museum, there are pipes on display dating back to the 1800s. There is one pipe they dug up two years ago after a main broke at the intersection of 12th and Church Street. 

"We anticipate it had been there at least 100 years like that. The wood wasn't what failed. You can see the crack around it is what failed,” Mitchell said.

This year the city has had eight water main breaks throughout downtown. Mitchell says 12 percent of the downtown area is sitting on pipes that are two centuries old.

“In order for businesses to thrive and citizens to have reliable water sources, we have to have a reliable infrastructure. So it's critical we keep the infrastructure renewed,” Mitchell sad.

City officials say fixing downtown's pipes could take up to a decade and cost $50 to $60 million. 

"We'll methodically move through downtown, replacing waterlines and improving utilities and the streetscape throughout the entire downtown area,” Mitchell said. 

While the city works on designing the second phase of the utility and streetscape project, residents affected are glad to be back in service. 

"They definitely remedied the problem really quickly. So I think they did a good job,” Hart said.

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