Recent construction projects in downtown Ardmore and Ardmore Industrial Airpark have unearthed buried infrastructure not recorded on any map or listed in any database. Surprises such as these delay construction, and the city is forced into spending additional money to work around the problem.
Ardmore Public Utilities Director Shawn Guerin said these type of problems occur because they are finding things that were first installed decades ago.
“We’re talking about back before there were even any records kept,” Guerin said. “Or if there were any records, those records are long gone.”
Guerin said sometimes the uncovered infrastructure is so old that literally nobody has any clue why it is even there.
“We’ll dig something up, and we’ll know immediately if it isn’t water or sewer,” Guerin said. “We’ll start contacting ONG and the other utility providers to see if they own it, and sometimes they don’t even know.”
Even when the city knows they have found an unmarked waterline, Guerin said they do not know whether or not the line is active.
“Even now, when we replace infrastructure, we don’t pull the old line out of the ground,” Guerin said. “We’ll lay the new line off to the side and abandon the old line.”
Guerin said that the biggest difference between then and now is that the city has been using a mapping software called ArcView for over two decades to keep track of changes being made.
“We still keep the old line in the system, but we know that it’s not connected anymore,” Guerin said. “That way when we’re all gone, the next guy in will know if it’s active or not without punching a hole in it.”
Guerin said the system is constantly updated to accurately represent both the discovery of old pipelines and the addition of new pipelines. Not only will this information be helpful in the future, it is also just as helpful today. For example, ArcView allows workers to quickly find all shutoff valves.
“This works out especially well when we get a line down, and we’re trying to isolate the break,” Guerin said. “We don’t want to put any more people without water than we absolutely have to. The closer we can get to the break, the smaller number of people are affected.”