Ancient Babylonians, who lived in what is modern day Iraq, were the first manufacturers of clay pipe systems, dating back to around 4,000 B.C. The relative simplicity of creating pipes out of clay was popular for thousands of years. Being an earthen element, clay was used well into the 1900s and remains environmentally sound and resistant to corrosion.
The downside of clay pipes was the weight and accessibility of tree roots into the systems. In the present day, intake of ground water plays into the excess discharge at the lagoons, especially in wet-weather conditions. Tree roots are always looking for water. Consequently, clay pipes, more commonly known as terra-cotta sewer-line, started being phased out in the 1960s and 1970s when plastic sewer pipe options such as ABS and PVC were developed.
I am not sure when the last clay pipe was installed in Marlinton. But I do know we still have a good share of clay sewer lines remaining in our system. Old clay pipes can last 50 to 60 years without needing to be replaced, which is why they became such a popular option in the first place. But guess what? Time is up, and this is the very reason we are in a window of time seeing the collapse and failure of this type of lines in various parts of town. It is also the reason we/The Town must continue to seek funding to replace much of the distribution system, while mandated to separate stormwater from the sewer. None of these materials are getting any cheaper.
I said all that, to say this: The Town maintenance crew was out Friday, Saturday and again on Sunday, at various times, locating and repairing separate sewer issues. The down pouring rainfall probably contributed to a certain extent. But the issue on 14th Avenue was found to be collapsed clay tile. Not unusual after having served the community well for six decades.
The Town system also has sections of cast iron, which provide the durability and sanitation that we expect, and are still in use today. Also, because of weight, in transporting, handling, and installing, cast iron is not typically preferred over plastic pipes.
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Marlinton Main Street lighting may be out for another week or more, while traffic signals and mounting poles project is underway.