A Growing Water Utility in Georgia Relies on AMERICAN Valves and Pipe for Its Largest Transmission Main


Columbia County Water Utility, Columbia County, Ga.

Project Summary:

In 2012, Columbia County Water Utility completed installation of its North Belair Road transmission main in Martinez, Ga. The pipeline is more than four miles long and is 36 inches in diameter. In terms of diameter, this is the utility’s largest water main.

The project’s original goal was to increase the volume of flow from the recently expanded Jim Blanchard Water Treatment Plant to 45 million gallons a day (MGD) using 30-inch pipe, but the forward-thinking utility stepped up to 36-inch to achieve a capacity of 52 MGD. The 36-inch line ties in with existing lines to feed into elevated and ground-level storage tanks. In 2011, the Blanchard plant, which draws from the Savannah River, pumped more than 5 billion gallons of water to customers. Columbia County’s secondary plant is the Clarks Hill Water Treatment Plant, which draws from Clark Hill Reservoir north of Augusta, Ga.

The new line includes 13 AMERICAN Series 2500 36-inch resilient wedge gate valves with bevel gear actuators to permit horizontal installation. The valves were installed horizontally due to their size and the required depth of cover. Blow-off piping was added to a flushing port at the bottom of each valve to ensure the ability to flush out debris before closing a valve for pipeline maintenance. Due to its simple, smart design, the AMERICAN Series 2500 resilient wedge gate valve is reliable and easy to operate even after long periods of use. It is built to last with ductile iron construction and a fully rubber encapsulated ductile iron wedge. And, it results in lower pumping and maintenance costs compared with butterfly valves, in which the disc constantly obstructs flow and prevents pigging of the line.


Key Players:

Ferguson Waterworks (Augusta, Ga.) and AMERICAN worked closely with Columbia County Water Utility and its engineering consultant and contractor to ensure a successful installation. The award-winning utility has served customers since 1963 and now provides almost 85 percent of the water consumed in its 350-square-mile service area, which includes approximately 100,000 Columbia County residents. Since 1970, the county’s population has increased sixfold, transforming the area from a rural neighbor of Augusta to a major suburban county in Georgia’s second largest metropolitan area.

The engineering consultant on this project was Zimmerman, Evans & Leopold (Augusta, Ga.), and the contractor was Beams Contracting, Inc. (Beech Island, SC). 

“AMERICAN has always made a top-notch product, and it's good to know that good quality pipe and valves are still made in this country.”
Jorge Jimenez

What They Said:

“This 36-inch line is our biggest pipe and largest installation, but it will last us a long time to come. And in valves, we’ve used the resilient seated wedge design for many years. These are tough, economical valves.” – Eric Hinds, engineering/construction manager for Columbia County Water Utility.

“We are happy with these [AMERICAN Series 2500] valves, and we’ve had zero issues with AMERICAN pipe. We’ve used these valves in many projects, including some 48-inch valves for Columbia County about eight years ago. We know AMERICAN’s products and have confidence in them. AMERICAN has always made a top-notch product, and it’s good to know that good quality pipe and valves are still made in this country.” – Jorge Jimenez, president of Zimmerman, Evans & Leopold

“AMERICAN brought knowledge and responsiveness to the table to help find solutions to project challenges.” – Rob Wren, sales representative for Ferguson Waterworks.

“We’ve received excellent service during this project. For example, one Friday morning I called Ferguson needing quick delivery on some pipe, and it was there Monday morning. Handling such a tight turnaround on 36-inch ductile iron pipe speaks volumes for both Ferguson and AMERICAN.” – Michael Parris, project manager for Beams Contracting.

What They Used:

Ferguson supplied 13 AMERICAN Series 2500 36-inch resilient wedge gate valves with bevel gear actuators, approximately 22,000 feet of AMERICAN 36-inch Fastite and Flex-Ring ductile iron pipe, several AMERICAN B-84-B hydrants, and several smaller diameter Series 2500 resilient wedge gate valves.