WTR12 Water Distribution Improvements

Project Details:

Project Start Date: 1/1/11

Ongoing Program: Y

Submitting Department: Public Works - Water

Contact Person: Marie Asgian

Level of Need: Significant

Estimated Project Completion Date: 12/31/27

Department Priority: 1

Contact Phone Number: 612-673-5682


Project Location:

Address: Various locations throughout the City

City Sector: Multiple

Affected Neighborhoods: Various

Affected Wards: Various

Project Description:

Water Distribution Improvement funds are used for rehabilitation or replacement of water main, hydrants, valves, meters, and other water distribution system components. The City’s water distribution system includes 1,000 miles of water main, 8,000+ fire hydrants, 16,000+ valves and manholes, and 100,000+ water meters with automated reading devices. This system reliably delivers high quality drinking water with sufficient flow to provide fire protection to all those living, working, or visiting the City as well as our suburban wholesale customers. Elements of original infrastructure dating back to 1872, when the City added water main for domestic use to the existing distribution system for fire protection, are still fully functional. The system has remained resilient and reliable due to strategic infrastructure reinvestment in renewal or replacement of water distribution system assets as funded by WTR12.

Improvement project work includes water main renewal (cleaning and lining, structural lining, etc.) and/or replacement. Also included are replacement of hydrants, valves, manholes, meters, and automated meter reading devices.

Purpose and Justification:

The Water Distribution Improvement program is a reinvestment in the City’s infrastructure to maintain system reliability and viability. This annual program consists of the following major elements:

- Water main cleaning and lining- 69% of the City of Minneapolis’ 1,000 miles of water main are made of unlined cast iron pipe installed between 50 and 150 years ago. Almost all of the water main is structurally sound and in good condition. Over time, mineral deposits have built up on the inside of the unlined pipe, constricting flow and sometimes resulting in discolored water. Cleaning and lining is a cost-effective method of renewing water mains to restore the volume of flow in the pipe available for fire suppression and to resolve discolored water issues without digging a trench in the street. The cleaning and lining process consists of digging access pits at each intersection, pulling scrapers through the pipe to remove built up mineral deposits and installing potable grade cement lining to prevent future build-up.

- Water main replacement or structural lining – Although Minneapolis has one of the lowest number of water main breaks in the country (4 per 100 miles of main), locations exist with recurring water main leaks. To remedy the problem the water main may be replaced or structurally lined. The structural lining process is similar to the cement mortar lining process except that the liner is a cured in place insert that is strong enough to hold its form even if the host pipe fails. This work saves money that would have been spent on repeated repairs which in turn minimizes interruption of service to residents for water main repairs.

- Hydrant replacement- In order to maintain citywide fire suppression, hydrants that are no longer operable and repairable must be replaced. Hydrants are also replaced when they are beyond their service life and leak below the ground, causing an unknown but potentially significant amount of water loss.

- Valve and manhole replacement- Valves are used to minimize the number of consumers impacted by a water main shut down. System valves and the manholes that house them are replaced at the end of their serviceable life. In addition to replacing valves and manholes at individual locations to address issues, they are also replaced throughout water main cleaning and lining project areas as part of complete infrastructure renewal. Since valves and the associated manholes are typically located at street intersections, the access holes for cleaning and lining are placed at valves to minimize the excavation by using the same hole for water main lining and the valve replacement.

- Meter replacement- Water meters are the cash registers for the Water Enterprise Fund. Accurately metered water use is important so that customers are billed for the amount of water they use. This encourages conservation and allows the City to continue to treat and distribute high quality drinking water at an affordable cost. As meters near the end of their service life, the internal components tend to wear, causing the meter to register a lower volume than was actually used. In order to accurately bill customers on a monthly basis, worn meters need to be replaced.

Current condition assessment data has documented an increased need for the amount of water main cleaning and lining performed each year. As a result, beginning in 2023 an increased level of funding is being requested on an ongoing basis for Water Distribution Improvements. Water Treatment and Distribution Services uses asset management principles to evaluate water infrastructure and prioritize renewal and replacement. As part of this strategy, water distribution operations collects condition assessment data using Geographic Information System (GIS) mobile field devices during routine system maintenance activities. One set of data is hydrant flow data collected when crews are performing routine system flushing. Hydrant flow testing measures the amount of water (in gallons per minute) available to fight a fire from any given hydrant. Over the years, flow can be reduced when the water system pipe that supplies a hydrant becomes constricted by the mineral deposits that have accumulated on the inside walls of unlined cast iron pipe. Cleaning and lining unlined cast iron pipe resolves this problem permanently and restores the flow in the pipe. Locations for cleaning and lining projects in the City are now selected by comparing the hydrant flow data with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines for the type of properties served (residential, commercial, industrial). In the past, prior to having this quantitative condition assessment data, water quality complaints of discolored water were used to identify candidate areas for water main renewal. This resulted in potential to underserve areas where residents were less likely to contact the City with complaints. Moving forward, as the hydrant flow data shows a similar magnitude of need among several locations, Areas of Concentrated Poverty where 50% or more of residents are people of color (ACP50) as defined by Metropolitan Council are prioritized.

Project Visuals and Map:

Watermain after cleaning and lining

Project Cost Breakdown

Department Funding Request


Have Grants for this Project been secured?


Describe status and timing details of secured or applied for grants or other non-City funding sources:

All funding for this project is planned to come from water enterprise revenue and bond funds.

Describe any collaborative arrangements with outside project partners, including who they are and what their role is with the project:

Water main, hydrant, and valve replacement or renewal are performed in conjunction with City, County, and State road reconstruction projects to the extent feasible.


State Law Chapter 462.356 (Subd. 2) requires review of all capital improvements for compliance with the comprehensive municipal plan. Chapter 13, Section 4 of the City Charter requires Location and Design Review for the purpose of approving the sale of bonds for these projects. Describe how the project is consistent with the adopted City/Park Board comprehensive plans and how the project implements goals and policies as stated in the adopted plans, including specific policy references:

The project complies with The Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth (the City’s comprehensive plan) through the following specific references:

Public Services and Facilities: Through sound management and strategic investments, Minneapolis will maintain and develop public services and facilities that promote health, safety and an enhanced quality of life for all members of this growing community.

Policy 5.4: Enhance the safety, appearance, and effectiveness of the city’s infrastructure.

5.4.1 Maintain and improve the quality and condition of public streets, sidewalks, bridges, water systems, and other public infrastructure.

5.4.2 Plan for and provide public facilities which anticipate growth needs, use fiscal resources efficiently, and meet realistic timelines.

5.4.3 Prioritize capital improvements according to an objective set of criteria consistent with adopted goals and policies, including those of The Minneapolis Plan.

Environment: Minneapolis will promote sustainable design practices in the preservation, development, and maintenance of its natural and built environments, provide equal access to all of the city’s resources and natural amenities, and support the local and regional economy without compromising the needs of future generations.

Policy 6.9: Be a steward of clean water by protecting and enhancing its surface and groundwater systems.

6.9.1 Continue to invest in maintaining excellent water quality for consumption, and ensure delivery of safe drinking water to customers.

6.9.3 Accomplish the guiding principles of the city’s Local Surface Water Management Plan, which are to protect people, property and the environment; maintain and enhance infrastructure; provide cost-effective services in a sustainable manner; meet or surpass regulatory requirements; educate and engage the public and stakeholders, and enhance livability and safety.

6.9.4 Encourage consumer use of the municipal water supply to reduce reliance on bottled water and the waste stream water bottles generate.

6.9.5 Support pollution prevention programs as an important first step in maintaining a healthy physical environment.

6.9.6 Manage pollutants at the source in order to prevent degradation of water bodies.

6.9.7 Preserve and enhance the strategic placement of pervious surfaces within the city to decrease the rate and volume of storm water runoff.

Provide the date that Location and Design Review was conducted for the project, the outcome of that analysis and the date formal action was taken by the Planning Commission:

Location and Design Review for this project took place on May 4, 2009. The project was found consistent with the City’s comprehensive plan. No additional review is required.

Economic Development

Will the project contribute to growth in the city’s tax base?

No impact on existing tax base

Describe the economic development impact of the project:

Not applicable.

Does the project support redevelopment opportunity that without the project would be infeasible?

Not applicable.


Is the proposed project on an existing or planned transitway, transit route, or high-volume pedestrian corridor? If yes, provide details on how the project will improve the transit and/or pedestrian experience.

Yes. Since water distribution system projects are citywide, unavoidably some of the work occurs in transitway, transit route, or high-volume pedestrian corridors . As part of Public Works internal project review processes, Water Treatment and Distribution works closely with Transportation Planning and Programming as well as with Transportation Engineering and Design to ensure that water main projects do not negatively impact these corridors.

Does the proposed project anticipate multi-modal enhancements (sidewalks, bicycle or transit facilities)? Provide details.

Not applicable.

Is the right-of-way constrained and do you anticipate that modes of travel will be competing for space? Provide details, is there potential for innovative design options? Provide details

Not applicable.

Operating Impacts

Operations & Capital Asset Maintenance:

Is this request for new or existing infrastructure? Existing

What is the expected useful life of the project/Improvement? 50 years

Year that Operating Incr/(Decr) will take effect? 2022

What is the estimated annual operating cost increase or (decrease) for this project? ($10,000)

Any Prior Year Remaining Bond Authorizations? No

Prior Year Remaining Bond Authorizations: N/A

Describe how operating cost increases or decreases were determined and include details such as personnel costs, materials, contracts, energy savings, etc:

- Reduced maintenance needed for replaced fire hydrants.

- A significant portion of the allocation for WTR12 is used for water main cleaning and lining or structural lining, which consists of scraping the inside of cast iron water mains to remove built up mineral deposits and installing a smooth liner.  The improved flow characteristics (reduced frictional loss) of the lined water main will incrementally reduce pumping costs in maintaining water system pressures. 

- Water meters under-report when they are past their service life and the internal components are worn.  This means that the customer is not paying for all of the water used.  Water meter replacement  does not necessarily achieve cost savings but does assist in cost recovery.

If new infrastructure, discuss how the department/agency will pay for the increased annual operating costs:

Not applicable.

For new infrastructure, describe the estimated timing and dollar amount of future capital investment required to realize the full expected useful life of the project:

Not applicable.

Project Coordination

Describe completion status for ongoing projects and how and when the department/agency plans to use the prior year remaining bond authorizations:

No carry-over from previous years.

If this is a new project, describe the major project phases and timing anticipated for completing the project:

Not applicable.

Scalability/Funding Allocation Flexibility – discuss any flexibility to increase or decrease funding among the years in the five-year plan and the most that could be spent in a given year:

Some flexibility, but limited. Many of the sub-projects within WTR12 are timed to precede work in the coming year or to coordinate with same year street reconstruction projects to optimize infrastructure investment. The meter replacement project is on a fixed timetable in order to ensure that the City continues to accurately bill customers for consumption.

Minneapolis Goals and Strategic Direction

Minneapolis is a growing and vibrant world-class city with a flourishing economy and a pristine environment, where all people are safe, healthy and have equitable opportunities for success and happiness.Below is a description of how this project meets each of the City's Goals. Below is a description of how this project meets each of the City's Goals.

Below is a description of how this project meets each of the City's Goals.

Public Safety

Collaborative and community-inclusive strategies to ensure safety for all members of our community:

The availability of fully functional fire hydrants with enough pressure and flow for fire suppression is critical to the Fire Department. In support of this need, part of the Water Distribution Improvements project is to replace, fire hydrants that are past their service life and replace or rehabilitate water mains to improve flow.


The City prioritizes equitable access to safe, stable, accessible, and affordable housing to eliminate racial disparities in housing:

Economic Development

The City prioritizes economic inclusion so that all workers and families are supported and People of Color, Indigenous and Immigrant (POCII)-owned businesses in all sectors can thrive.

Public Services

The City prioritizes reliable and equitable access to high-quality public services.

Environmental Justice:

The City prioritizes sustainable practices and renewable resources to equitably address climate change while restoring and protecting our soil, water and air.

Built Environment & Transportation:

The City prioritizes high quality neighborhoods, streets, infrastructure and equitable access to multimodal transportation in all parts of the City through thoughtful planning and design.

Water Distribution Improvements renew and replace water system infrastructure from the treatment plant to the tap so that the City can continue providing safe drinking water to homes and businesses and fire hydrants with reliable system pressure for fire protection. To the extent practical, water distribution improvement projects are coordinated with street reconstruction projects for holistic infrastructure upgrades along a corridor.

Public Health:

The City Prioritizes positive youth development so that all children can grow healthy and safe:

The health and vitality of our City relies on the ability for all residents to open the faucet and consistently get safe drinking water. This project supports the renewal and replacement of the water distribution system components that safely convey high quality water from the treatment plant to every neighborhood in the City.

Arts and Culture:

The City prioritizes arts and culture as important part of inclusive economic development and placemaking in our communities:

Additional Information

Add any additional information you feel is important for the CLIC committee, Mayor, City Council members or the general public to know about this potential project and why it should be approved:

The Water Distribution system is essential to the vitality of the City. The Water Distribution System Improvement project is a strategic reinvestment in the infrastructure that reliably delivers high quality water to all City residents businesses, and wholesale water customers. This project helps the City maintain infrastructure reliability, preserve the water quality from treatment plant to tap, adequately provide water for fire suppression, and improve the overall quality of life in Minneapolis.