Pipeline Improvement: Corpus Christi Plans $100 Million Upgrade


Introduction to the Pipeline Project

In a significant move to enhance its infrastructure, the City of Corpus Christi is contemplating a substantial investment of over $100 million to upgrade the Mary Rhodes Pipeline. This essential conduit, stretching 101 miles, has been a critical water supply line since its inception in 1998 but now faces several challenges that hinder its efficiency.

Identifying the Weaknesses

Recent investigations have pinpointed multiple structural weaknesses within the pipeline, which have led to frequent ruptures and a substantial reduction in water transport capacity. Originally costing $116 million, the pipeline now operates at just 55 percent of its potential capacity. “We’ve paid for water we’re not taking every day because of the pipe’s strength and structural integrity,” explained City Manager Peter Zanoni. The weak spots cause physical breaks and financial losses by failing to deliver the total amount of water the city purchases.

Proposed Enhancements and Council Review

At Tuesday’s meeting, the city council will review a detailed study of these issues. Consequently, if they approve the proposal, residential water bills would see a minor increase—by approximately one dollar per month—to fund the necessary improvements. Moreover, these enhancements are intended to allow the pipeline to support higher pressure and transport an additional 20 million gallons of water daily, representing about 20% of the city’s total water usage on a typical summer day.

Technical Pipeline Details and Future Plans

The pressure within the pipeline currently stands at 100 PSI, though it ideally should be between 125 and 150 PSI in the problematic sections. “The pressure is only at 100 PSI, but it should be more like 125 or 150 in those areas where we have concerns where the blowouts have been,” stated Zanoni. The city plans to construct parallel lines to fortify the existing pipeline, allowing full-capacity water flow to the O.N. Stevens Water Treatment Plant. Drew Molly, COO for Corpus Christi Water, highlighted that this approach is crucial for maximizing water delivery through the Mary Rhodes Pipeline.

Approval and Implementation Timeline

The council’s approval is still pending, and if green-lighted, the project could take 24 to 40 months to complete. Optimistically, the city could begin to benefit from the increased water supply by 2026 or 2027, marking a significant enhancement in Corpus Christi’s water resource management.

This ambitious project represents a proactive strategy to address long-standing infrastructure challenges, ensuring a sustainable water supply for the city’s future. As Corpus Christi continues to grow, such initiatives are essential for maintaining the region’s quality of life and economic vitality.

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