2019 Budget: Robots, water mains and technology

In 2019, robotic devices will move through large water mains to identify potential problems and Louisville Water will start the final projects to eliminate its remaining lead service lines. Today, the Board of Water Works approved the 2019 operating and capital budgets for Louisville Water Company.

Robots and water mains 

Louisville Water’s capital budget is $105 million, and most of those dollars are for projects to maintain the water treatment facilities and the pipe that deliver the region’s drinking water. In 2019, Louisville Water will continue to use robotic devices to inspect its largest water mains, focusing on pipes in the southern and southeastern parts of Jefferson County. Louisville Water has more than 4,200 miles of water main with pipes ranging in size from 6 inches to 60 inches in diameter. Louisville Water has used these robotic devices for nearly 10 years and engineers estimate the proactive work has eliminated nearly 80 large-scale water main breaks. The 2019 budget includes $20 million for inspecting and repairing the large water mains and another $11 million to replace or repair neighborhood water mains throughout the service area.

Eliminating lead service lines

By the summer of 2019, Louisville Water will launch the final projects to eliminate its lead service lines — a milestone for maintaining water quality. Lead is not a public health concern for Louisville’s drinking water. Lead is not in the drinking water when it leaves the treatment plants, but there’s a potential risk with certain plumbing materials. Louisville Water’s treatment minimizes the chance for lead to enter the water, but it’s also important to eliminate the primary risk, lead service lines. The $3.1 million of work in 2019 will focus on removing roughly 1,000 lead service lines scattered throughout the city, primarily inside the Watterson Expressway. Customers can check to see if their Louisville Water service line is made of lead at LouisvilleWater.com.

Louisville Water began in 1860 and until the 1950s, it was common to use lead for the service line that connects to the customer’s property. Louisville Water began replacing its estimated 74,000 lead service lines in the 1970s and now less than 1,000 remain. Because Louisville Water is only responsible for the lines that connect to the customer’s property, the company offers funding to assist customers if their private service line is made of lead.

New customers and a growing region

Louisville Water plans to begin delivering water to Shelbyville in the summer of 2019 through a new water main installed along Interstate 64. Providing water to the communities around Louisville continues to be a growing part of Louisville Water’s business. In 2019, regional water operations will produce $5.9 million in revenue, up from $5.3 million in 2018.

As a complement to the region’s economy, Louisville Water has seen a spike in the miles of new water main installed. This year, Louisville Water will place more than 15 miles of new pipe in the ground, with much of that for new housing and commercial property.

Giving Customers and Louisville Metro a Good Value 

Louisville Water expects to deliver 33.4 billion gallons of drinking water in 2019, in-line with water usage for 2018. Nearly one million people use Louisville Water’s product every day in Louisville Metro and surrounding counties. Louisville Water’s goal is to provide customers a good value. In 2019, the average cost for a household using 4,000 gallons of water a month will be $23.16, an increase of 91 cents.

Louisville Water has a unique governance structure with the city owning all the company’s stock. In 2019, Louisville Water projects a $19.3 million dividend to its owner, Louisville Metro.