Early Monday morning, city of Bloomington utilities (CBU) workers started work on the 6th Street segment of the downtown courthouse square. The project is to remove a water main from an alley and put a new one in the street to replace the old main’s service.
The 123-year-old pipe that’s being replaced is made of cast iron, public affairs specialist Holly McLauchlin said. That put to rest a speculation by The Square Beacon that the old pipe might be made of hollowed-out logs. Still, some wooden pipes from the Paris Dunning house project several years back had been saved by CBU, McLauchlin said.
Most Bloomington Transit buses will continue to run next week on their normal schedule. But the suspension of Indiana University classes means that BT will offer no service on Routes 7, 6-Limited and 9-Limited through March 29.
Routes 6 and 9 will continue operating on the university’s semester break schedules through March 29. BT Access, the agency’s para-transit service, will operate normally.
Councilmember Andy Ruff at the Aug. 20, 2019 departmental budget hearings (Dave Askins/Beacon)
Utilities director Vic Kelson at the Aug. 20, 2019 departmental budget hearings (Dave Askins/Beacon)
On Tuesday night, Bloomington’s utilities director Vic Kelson presented the city council with a proposed $1.7 million for water main replacement as part of the department’s 2020 budget. He described how that would pay to replace roughly 2.5 miles of pipe.
During the time for councilmember questions, Isabel Piedmont-Smith responded to the 2.5-mile figure by saying, “That does sound like very little.” Piedmont-Smith’s assessment was based on the roughly 420 miles of pipe in the system, and the frequency of recent high profile water main breaks.
At a press briefing on the Friday before the week of budget hearings, Mayor John Hamilton said the pace of water main replacement was not fast enough, because pipes don’t last as long as it will take to replace them all—if the current pace of replacement is maintained. About the 2.5 miles per year that has been budgeted for the last few years, Hamilton said, “That’s way better than it was five years ago, but is not good enough.”
At Tuesday’s city council session, utilities director Vic Kelson put the possibility of increasing the pace of water main replacement in the context of a possible rate increase. The current residential rate for City of Bloomington Utilities (CBU) is $3.73 per 1,000 gallons with a monthly $5.89 charge for a 5/8-inch meter. Any proposal for an increase in water rates has to be presented to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. Bloomington’s rate case to the IURC is planned for 2020.