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You may have noticed increased attention being paid to water main breaks in the city of San Diego. Part of that may have been because of a rash of recent breaks happened right around the holiday season. Or part of that may also be because Mayor Jerry Sanders is lobbying hard right now to pass an increase to water and sewer fees in order step up the replacement of miles and miles of aging cast-iron pipes.

Despite the increased attention, numbers released by the city show that pipes don’t appear to be breaking at that quicker of a pace than previous years:

As you can say, old cast-iron pipes are the primary culprit for the water-main breaks, which can disrupt water service and have been blamed for the temporary closure of local businesses.

During a hearing yesterday, City Attorney Mike Aguirre said the city has 190 miles of cast-iron piping built between 1880 and 1930 that needs replacing.

Mayor Jerry Sanders proposes increasing water fees by 6.5 percent annually over a period of four years — for a total of 29 percent by 2011. The water funds would be used to comply with a state health order to alter the way the city treats its water, ensuring that it uses a process to catch the deadly parasite cryptosporidium.

Cast-iron piping would also be replaced with the raised funds. But Aguirre said 115 miles would still remain after the four-year funding program.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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