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Over 10,000 feet of piping containing asbestos will be dug up as part of a $1.4 million Collier County Water project to replace all cast iron and asbestos-containing pipes in Naples water district within the next five to 10 years. That’s 10% of the district’s pipeline equating to about 93 miles in length.
The pipes will be replaced by PVC, which has a life expectancy of 23 to 32 years. The current pipes are from the 1970s and have leaks in areas where the pipe has worn down over the years.
The water goes to 112 homes in the area, but since their pipes contain asbestos, the county can’t clean them. The asbestos could flake off from scraping the metal.
Exposure to asbestos is a contributing risk factor to the diagnosis of mesothelioma cancer. In most cases, mesothelioma symptoms will not appear in an individual exposed to asbestos until many years after the exposure has occurred.
There are about 2,500 to 3,000 mesothelioma cases in the U.S. each year. It’s most common in men over age 60, but women and children have been diagnosed as well. People with a past asbestos exposure history experiencing symptoms should consult a physician with expertise in accurately diagnosing mesothelioma.
“We’re replacing the worst first, so the neighborhoods we are going into now did experience some water main breaks,” said Public Utilities Administrator George Yilmaz.
The effort started in 2001 and the cost is expected to be anywhere from $30 to $50 million and cover pipes north of Rattlesnake Hammock and between Gulfstream Drive and Hawaii Boulevard.
“The frequency of breaks is an indication of the age of the pipe or the premature aging of the pipe. We’d be going into this neighborhood regardless because of the age and type of pipe provides potential risk for more frequent leaks and breaks. We want it so our customers basically have a new water system,” said Yilmaz.
This area does not cover Golden Gate, Immokalee or the cities of Naples, Marco Island, and Everglades City because they’re covered by different water utility companies.