Some residents report water line issues

Efforts to bore fiber for a new high-speed network have caused some utilities problems for Columbus residents and Columbus City Utilities (CCU), but local officials say such issues are typical for this kind of project.

Engineering technician Patrick Nyffeler said that if customers experience any issues with their water or sewer service, they should contact CCU at 812-372-8861.

Work being done by Atlantic Engineering Group (AEG) and subcontractors has caused breaks in some residents’ water service lines, with Nyffeler estimating that there have been about six instances of this in the past couple of weeks along Washington Street near The Lagoons.

“So far, it looks like they’re hitting service lines,” he said. “And that would be the lines going to the house from the meter. They haven’t hit any mains that I’m aware of.”

He added that this is a “pretty easy fix,” and the project manager on the boring work contacts him when damages occur.

Nyffeler said that contractors are working to minimize damages, but these kind of issues are typical for utility projects, especially one of this scale.

“It’s part of it, unfortunately,” he said. “Typically the right of way is, for the most part, 10 foot in every area, so all your utilities are within that 10-foot area. A lot of fiber network, your water, your sanitary sewers, so there’s limited space to work in.”

CCU Engineer Ashley Getz said that when boring work occurs, companies call in utility locate tickets, and the department marks its water mains and water services from main to meter.

“And then there’s a residential side of it, where it goes from the meter to the house, that we don’t mark, because it’s the homeowner’s,” she said. “And with the boring, they (companies) usually try to, I can’t speak for them, but they usually try to locate, if they know there’s a water meter pit, they try to find the lines, but they inevitably hit lines along the way, is what we’ve seen.”

She said that CCU has seen some water issues from the fiber project on the department’s side, but they do not always hear about breaks that occur on the customers’ side.

If a customer contacts the department, they can send out staff to see whose side the break is on and can turn off water, if needed, while repairs occur. It is the responsibility of the company doing the boring work to fix the problem.

City officials have said that the work being done by AEG is for the city’s fiber-to-home project. Meridiam Infrastructure North America Corp. has agreed to create a network that officials say will reach at least 85% of Columbus and is also creating networks in Bartholomew County, Bloomington and Shelbyville.

In his recent State of the City address, delivered on March 6, Mayor Jim Lienhoop said that Hoosier Networks — a fiber network utility provider established by Meridiam — and its construction partners had laid 58,600 feet of fiber conduit and passed 841 homes in Columbus.

“They’re almost finished with what we call the ‘big block area’, generally Second Street up to 25th, Washington Street over to Central,” he said. “When complete, we will see internet with 1 gig capacity up and 1 gig down throughout town. We will be among the most wired communities in the nation.”

It was announced in September that GigabitNow would serve as the initial internet service provider for the fiber to home network. The city hopes for customers to be able to begin signing up for service by mid-May, said Lienhoop.