LONG BEACH, CALIF. — The Long Beach Water Department reported that during Fiscal Year (FY) 2009, the city of Long Beach experienced the lowest number of water main breaks ever in its history. The news comes on the heels of a Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners announcement made last week that reported the lowest annual citywide water demand since 1965. Long Beach water consumption was 17 percent below the city’s historical 10-year average during FY 2009.

“This is truly wonderful news for the city of Long Beach,” said Paul Blanco, president of the Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners. “It really demonstrates that a proactive, sustained commitment to replacing and upgrading critical water and sewer infrastructure throughout our city can make all the difference in the world.”

The Long Beach Water Department has invested nearly $90 million since FY 1998 to upgrade the city’s older, less reliable cast iron water infrastructure, which is more susceptible to frequent, costlier breaks. The water department replaced as much as 107,000 linear feet per year of the older cast iron pipeline, installing a newer, more reliable ductile iron pipe in its place.

Throughout the 1990s, it was common to have more than 100 main breaks each year in Long Beach. The success of the main replacement program has caused these numbers to drop dramatically:

  • The average number of annual main breaks in Long Beach between FY 1991 and FY 2000 was 133.
  • The average number of annual main breaks in Long Beach between FY 2001 and FY 2009 was 59.
  • The total number of main breaks that occurred in FY 2009 was only 14 percent of the total number of main breaks that occurred in FY 1991.

“For many years now, the Water Department has taken a more proactive approach to our comprehensive infrastructure maintenance program,” said Kevin Wattier, general manager of the Long Beach Water Department. “Ideally, our goal would be to refresh our system every 20 years. Although that may not always be entirely possible, by keeping this goal in mind, we have been able to make solid progress toward ensuring the infrastructure that we use to deliver water and sewer services to our customers is more dependable and less vulnerable to unexpected failures. It is also important to note that fewer main breaks result in fewer interruptions to service, which provides for an improved quality of life for all Long Beach residents.”