Acidic Soil, Electrolysis Corrode Water Main

July 2,  2013

by S. Aaron Shamshoyan 

A corroded water pipe on Stiles Road is only one-eighth of an inch thick after premature aging due to highly acidic soil and electrolysis.

Town officials estimate 150 feet of pipe is affected by the presence of peat soil, which is acidic, and will cost close to $35,000 to replace.

“Occasionally this type of pipe will corrode due to aggressive soil,” Department of Public Works Director Rick Russell told Selectmen Monday. He said electrolysis from all the utilities on the road could add to the problem.

Test pits allowed for Russell and the department to estimate the length of replacement needed.  The road is currently being reconstructed as part of the ten-year road program and while conducting culvert work the problem was discovered.

Russell said Stiles Road was built in four sections, the most recent connecting it to Lowell Road by the Ice Center. He said there was no problem with the pipe when connecting the newest section of pipe.

Funding for the pipe replacement will come from the unassigned water fund balance. Town Manager Keith Hickey said this wasn’t the first request to withdraw money from the fund in 2013.

But funding for the replacement will not take priority over other projects being paid for by the fund. “There have been some needs to use the contingency,” he said, adding other projects already approved will be funded first.

Hickey said the project though would begin next week to replace the pipe. Selectmen voted unanimously to authorize the expenditure up to $34,650 from the unassigned water fund to replace the section of pipe.

The new pipe will be wrapped in a protective material to prevent future corrosion.

Hickey also informed the board mosquito spraying began June 30 in preparation for the Fourth of July festivities and that Recreation Director Chris Dillon would decide if the fireworks would need to be postponed until the fifth by Wednesday because of rain.