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San Antonio, the eighth largest U.S. city, boasts a beautifully developed, culturally rich community that is home to more than a million people; host tens of thousands of tourists each year; and features thousands of thriving businesses. It's easy to see why this is a great place to live and why this is one of the fastest growing geographical areas in the United States.

But, as in metropolitan areas throughout the country, the residents of San Antonio must address a problem that doesn't meet the eye. One of the most pressing concerns facing cities throughout the country, according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA), lies below the ground.

San Antonio's water and wastewater infrastructure is the massive system of pipes and pumps. The city has more than 4500 miles of sewer mains buried below the 560-square miles that San Antonio Water System (SAWS) serves. San Antonio has sections of the aging infrastructure dating back 100 years or more. Like the rest of the country's sewer systems built decades ago, some parts of our system are simply nearing the end of their useful lifespan.

As in most cities, sanitary sewer outfall lines run along the banks of creeks. This is the case with many of SAWS outfalls. The lines run along creeks such as the Salado Creek, Leon Creek, etc. Salado Creek winds through the eastern side of San Antonio confluencing with the San Antonio River near south San Antonio. Although Salado Creek is the most natural watercourse flowing though San Antonio, various residents and business exist along the creek and have proposed nearly 20 miles of improvements to the Salado Creek including greenbelts and flood control. Therefore it's important to the community to maintain the water quality and environmental aspects of the area.

On June 11, 2004 SAWS Operations forces responded to an overflow from a manhole located along Salado Creek and subsequently discovered an existing 42-inch sewer main collapsed. The 42-inch sewer main was constructed in 1971 and collapsed due to deterioration and heavy rain falls. Approximately 2,000 feet of this main required replacement with a 66-inch main on an emergency basis to prevent future collapses, eliminate unsafe conditions, and to meet the requirements of the SAWS Wastewater Master Plan. This paper reviews the actions taken to contain the flows, minimize environmental impacts and rehabilitate the main. It also summarizes the importance of a good project management process in an emergency situation. The events listed below provide a project summary and an overview of the project development.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2005

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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