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'There is light at the end of the tunnel': Rockdale to replace water lines, solving years-long water issue

"There is light at the end of the tunnel": Rockdale to replace water lines, solve years-long water issue
Posted at 5:42 PM, Jan 30, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-30 18:42:15-05

ROCKDALE, Texas — The City of Rockdale is two months into Phase One of its water line replacement project as an attempt to solve a decades-long water issue.

  • Mineral build-up in pipes caused "red" or discolored water, a problem residents tell 15ABC they've been dealing with for years.
  • The city is spending $27.4 million to replace 10,000 feet of cast-iron pipes, hoping to have another bid approved in April to supply an additional 90,000 feet of PVC piping.
  • The project is expected to be completed in 18 months.


Ima Jean Wise has only lived in Rockdale about a year.

But she says the water has been a problem since she first moved in.

"It's real brown — you don't want to take a bath. You don't want to wash your clothes. You don't want to wash your dishes," she said.  

While it's been an issue for years, the water's passed quality tests.

The city says it hasn't had the money to take action.

"This has been a long-standing problem in the community and if you get a chance to ever take a look at our lines, they are typically cast-iron lines," said Rockdale City Manager Barbara Holly.

"They are hundreds of years old, and because of how caustic our water is, it was causing both iron and manganese to settle onto the interior of the pipes as well as they were rusting the pipes."

Now, the city's taking on its first phase of a $27 million project.

It will replace water lines with PVC pipes.

"Phase two, which is supposed to bid in April, hopefully, will get us to a full 100,000 of linear feet which is about five miles replaced in this small community," Holly said.

Wise's water is clear now, but it may run brown the next day.

But she's excited that something's being done.

"It's gonna be a big progress, and I'm very happy that's gonna happen in the future here," Wise said.

The city is expecting the project to be to be done in 18 months.

In the meantime, city officials say residents could see some interruptions in service during the process.