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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Asbestos Water Pipes

As was reported by this blog two years ago, (see http://marcoislandblog.blogspot.com/2008/10/stupefying.html ) the water mains on the island are "AC" – asbestos-cement. And as reported in that same article, the then public works director, and his staff, noted that the city was not testing the water for asbestos being sent through those pipes.

As evidenced by the recent closure to one aspect of the long-running asbestos problem on the island, and in light of the current council chairman and city manager to clean up the endemic mismanagement and oversights by previous councils, it is time to address the water pipes issue.

And how much asbestos-cement pipe does the city have carrying drinking water? Sixty (60) miles.

The current/former utilities management is also concerned about the AC pipes. Note this email exchange: 

From: Don Blalock
Sent: Monday, April 26, 2010 9:46 AM
To: Rony Joel; Gretchen Baldus; Bart Bradshaw
Cc: Steve Olmsted
Subject: RE: EPA/ AC Pipe


 This is my cost estimate for IT's, Gretchen Baldus' and my time for this project:

 Don Blalock – Three weeks         15 Days            $5900

Gretchen Baldus – 8 Hrs            1   Day              $  350

IT Staff – 4 Hrs                           ½  Day              $  170?  ( I Don't know exactly what Jon or Mark's rate is but I think this is a fair estimate)

            Total                                                     $6420

 After discussing this project with Bart Bradshaw it is my understanding the EPA wants:

1)       All the AC pipe displayed on a map (we can color the AC Pipe RED and all other pipes BLUE, or any color type you choose)

2)       Labels' showing the GPS coordinates for the beginning point and ending of all AC mains runs.

 If this is the case, I believe I can locate all of the runs without having to use C/D Staff. 


1) Do you want a static Map similar to Jim Miller's STRP connection PDFs which he places on the WEB? or

2) Do you want a dynamic map similar to Gretchen's Boil Order Notification Map where the consumer can search their address?

 We probably could get this up within a month baring any unforeseen issues such as a utility event or a natural disaster. If we don't need to display GPS coordinates on the map, the time table and cost could be cut in half.  Let me know if I am incorrect in my assumptions of this project.

 Donald R. Blalock, Jr.

Asset Manager

Marco Island Utilities

771 E. Elkcam Cir.

Marco Island, Fl  34145

Office: 239-389-3997


From: Rony Joel
Sent: Thursday, April 22, 2010 6:30 PM
To: Don Blalock; Gretchen Baldus; Bart Bradshaw
Cc: Steve Olmsted
Subject: EPA/ AC Pipe


Don, Gretchen and Bart

I need your help. We need to develop a cost estimate to locate accurately every AC pipe on the Island (about 60 miles) and put it on a city wide GIS map which would be accessible to every resident on our web site.

This would include crews from Bart team, Don developing the data base and Gretchen inserting into a GIS data base.

I need to have a cost estimate of how many hours of labor will it take to accomplish this.

I need to have this to our attorneys by Tuesday afternoon

If EPA accepts this project, we will have a year to implement – now all I need is a scope and hour estimate


Please see me so you can coordinate this project



Note that the figure quoted is not to replace the pipes, or inspect them for fissures, or to even test the water for asbestos – but to merely document where they exist.

Several EPA studies show that asbestos-cement pipes do release fibers into the water. In but one study, several factors attributed to the release of the fibers into the water, noting that "… monitoring results and pilot studies indicate that the A/C pipes do release these fibers into the water." Namely, from "Decay of asbestos cement in water mains".1

Asbestos in the water mains presents two problems: one from ingestion and the other from contact with the skin (as when showering or taking a bath.)

According to the EPA, adverse health effects from ingesting asbestos have been documented. The Agency's list of contaminants notes that adverse health effects occur when there are 7 million fibers per liter (7MFL), resulting in an increased risk of developing benign intestinal polyps.2 The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (a federal agency) found that some areas with asbestos fibers in drinking water have a "higher than average death rates from cancer of the esophagus, stomach and intestines."4

Asbestos on the skin causes itching, predominantly right after bathing, and can cause warts ("Asbestos Warts" 3) and corns.

We call upon the independent city councilors to direct the staff to:

  • Identify and document for public review the exact location of these asbestos-cement water pipes
  • Regularly test the drinking water for asbestos in a statistically significant number of locations – where those locations are at the point where the asbestos-cement water pipes connect to homes and food-serving businesses.
  • Seek independent (outside of the city) expert(s) to evaluate the test results.
  • Make public those tests and evaluations in a timely fashion.

Health and safety must be the predominant concern of a government "For the People".


Controlling Asbestos Loss from Asbestos-Cement Pipe in Aggressive Waters. EPA. Water Engineering Research Laboratory. Sept. 1985.





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