Leawood faces $35 million bill to repair corroded underground pi - KCTV5

Leawood faces $35 million bill to repair corroded underground pipes

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The city of Leawood is facing a pipe problem.

More than 100,000 feet of metal sewer pipes are rusting and cracking underneath streets and homes. City leaders could vote to spend up to $35 million to repair the underground issues.

The pipe problems are concentrated in the area between 119th and 135th streets on both sides of Mission Road. They are the result of developers using metal storm sewer pipes when the area was built and now the public works director said the pipes aren't holding up.

The problems, like crushed pipes, are caught on a tiny camera that slithers its way through the storm sewer pipes.

"The pipes collapse from utility boring or property owners putting in fence," said Joe Johnson, Leawood's public works director.

The city has about 700,000 feet of storm sewer pipe. Of that, 106,000 feet are metal corrugated pipe that was outlawed by the city more than a decade ago.

"Most of it's been in the ground 22 to 50 years. We're noticing the bottoms are rusted. We've got holes in the bottom of pipe or the bottom is completely rusted out," Johnson said.

For the last 10 years the public works department used cameras to monitor the pipes and determine it's time for improvements. Their options are either to replace the pipes with concrete ones or reline them with a material that can be inserted and expanded inside the original pipe.

"There are some linings that decrease the inside diameter a little bit. We would want to make sure if we did something like that we wouldn't impact the capacity of the pipe and make surface draining worse," Johnson said.

The repairs are expected to cost about $35 million. The improvements could impact property tax by adding three mills – that adds up to about $175 per year on a $500,000 home.

"Right now it would be debt financed. The thought is replacing the pipe would add anywhere from 50 to 100 years in life depending on what type of material you would use," Johnson said.

The city's public works director said the improvements could prevent even more costly repairs down the road.

"If it is underneath the street, if the pipe collapses, there is the ability for the road to collapse. In backyards it could create voids. That becomes an issue for property owners. We are trying to address those before they happen," Johnson said.

Leawood banned the use of metal sewer pipes in 1996. The city council must vote to approve the possible $35 million improvements to the metal pipes that were already in place before the ban.

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