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Aging Sewers Pose Funding Challenge

In La Mesa, the problem is critical. On average, sewer pipes are 43 years old, or about as old as they were built to last…

Since 1988, the city has spent $700,000 a year on sewer system improvements, but that figure will reach $1.5 million because of the sewer rate increase…

Rates, which hadn't been raised in eight years, went up an average of 10 percent in July… Annual sewer revenues are $6 million…

With the rate increase, the city plans to replace the most critical segments of pipe, evaluate 70 percent of the system that has not been inspected and clean roots, debris and grease from its pipes more frequently…

The repairs are expected to cost tens of millions of dollars. A foot of new pipe, for example, can cost $150, one senior civil engineer said. New pipe lasts 65 years…

The city estimates that 70 percent of the pipes are more than 40 years old; about 8 percent are less than 20 years old. Also, 80 percent of the system is made of clay, which can chip and crack more easily than newer concrete or PVC pipe.

(San Diego Union-Tribune 9/4/02)


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