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KC Water’s Water Main Replacement Program Making a Difference

Posted on December 9, 2015

(Kansas City, Mo.) – Much of Kansas City’s drinking water infrastructure, the 2,800 miles of water main beneath our streets, is nearing the end of its useful life.

Some of the pipe has been in use since the late 1800’s. Aging infrastructure is a challenge every city across the country faces, and KC Water has a solution.

“We started by pulling all of our water records, more than 20,000 individual water records to glean as much information as we could about the pipes: when they were installed; the types of material used; where it was installed in the right of way. We used that information to build a database,” said KC Water Engineering Officer Andy Shively.

Engineers used that data to build a hydraulic model of Kansas City’s water distribution system. They divided it up into more than 70,000 individual pipe segments and analyzed each segment to determine its probability and consequence of failure.

All of that information is charted on a map. The miles of main with the highest risk get replaced first.

KC Water has a one percent water main replacement program which translates into a goal of replacing 28 miles of pipe each year.

Larger pipe means fewer anticipated water main breaks, increased reliability, and fewer service disruptions.

Eventually, all water mains in Kansas City will be replaced.

“A commonly asked question is why are we jumping from block to block and not doing an entire neighborhood all at once. That goes back to the prioritization process,” explains Shively.

The water main replacement program started in 2012.

In August of that year there were 316 water main breaks. Many were because of the drought. Others could be blamed on the age of the pipe.

In August of this year there were 80 breaks due, in part, to proactively replacing water mains.

This is a strategic, long-term, 100-year investment by KC Water to deliver safe and reliable drinking water to today’s customers and future generations.

“The ultimate goal is to stop interruptions to services. We’re trying to eliminate breaks and the downtime a customer has to experience whenever a break happens,” says Brooke Hudlemeyer, KC Water Project Manager.

“We believe this is the right plan for Kansas City. The right plan for our citizens and how we can best serve our customers in a cost effective way,” says Shively.

For more information, please contact Brooke Givens, Media Relations Coordinator, at or 816.513.0284.


KC Water maintains and operates water treatment and distribution systems, stormwater management systems, and wastewater collection and treatment systems for residential and business customers in Kansas City and for wholesale customers in the Kansas City area. KC Water is primarily funded by fees charged to customers based on their use or impacts on the three utility systems.

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