Mayor Johnny Hammock

Mayor Johnny Hammock said the city is losing money because of the outdated pipes.

The Tallassee City Council approved moving $21,000 from the city’s general fund at its June 25 meeting to pay for cast iron pipe replacement in East Tallassee after a local company won the bid.

The $21,000 is in addition to the requested $200,000 needed to replace old pipes running from Hilltop Grocery to Britt Veterinary Services in the Carrville area of the city. 

Mayor Johnny Hammock said the city is losing money because of the outdated pipes.

“We are losing thousands of dollars through those pipes,” Hammock said. “That is the area with the most leaks.”

The council suspended the rules to immediately consider and vote on the transfer. Horizontal Directional Drilling won the bid for the infrastructure work which is expected to begin Aug. 1, according to Hammock.

“Those pipes are old and outdated,” Hammock said. “Replacing them is in the best interest of the city and its citizens. In the long run, this will save money because we will not lose gas through those pipes.”

Tallassee’s cast iron pipes were installed in the early 1900s with an expected lifespan of 60 years.

Cast iron was the preferred pipe material throughout the 19th and 20th centuries and was largely used for pipes until the 1980s. Cast iron is an alloy of iron containing other elements such as carbon and silicon. While cast iron pipes are extremely durable and can withstand high amounts of pressure, their downside is they are susceptible to corrosion and rust, causing up to 25% of pipe failures. 

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently estimated 30,000 miles of cast iron pipe still carry gas. Tallassee’s cast iron pipes were put in place under the direction of Mount Vernon Mills, which can be traced back to the Jones Falls area in what is now Baltimore, Maryland, as early as the 1900s.