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Waterline replacement in base's Kittyhawk area underway

Work updates, modernizes aging infrastructure

Chuck Moore, a government contractor from the DeBra-Kuempela company, keeps watch over co-worker Bill Leonard down in an excavation working to weld sections of high-temperature water-transmission pipe together June 29 in the Kittyhawk area of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The work is part of an effort to modernize the decades-old hot water delivery system used for heating several buildings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Will Huntington)

Work updates, modernizes aging infrastructure

Behind the glare of an arc-welding rod, Bill Leonard, a government contractor from the DeBra-Kuempela company, welds sections of high-temperature water-transmission pipe together June 29 in the Kittyhawk area of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The work is part of an effort to modernize the decades-old hot water delivery system used for heating several buildings. (U.S. Air Force photo by Will Huntington)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- “Optimize and modernize the installation” is the third line of effort set forth in the 88th Air Base Wing’s strategic plan, and that’s being put into action in the Kittyhawk area of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
With parts of the base in existence for more than 100 years and some infrastructure-support systems dating back to the 1940s, there are indeed areas in need of an update.
Among the many projects now underway across the base is an ongoing effort to replace the high-temperature waterlines in what used to be known as “Area C.”
The work affects a number of facilities, including the base theater, USO building, chapel, bowling alley, Base Exchange annex and Class Six store.
These lines, many of them in concrete enclosures underground, bring needed high-temperature water from Kittyhawk’s centralized heat plant to surrounding buildings during the winter.  
“We have some aging infrastructure over there, and this will introduce some efficiencies,” said Steven Vincent, professional engineer and director of the 88th Civil Engineer Group. “One of the things that you will find with the buried steam and high temperature hot water lines is that eventually they begin to leak.” 
He said those leaks meant additional water has to supplement the system to keep it operating. Along with the supplemental water comes the higher cost of energy needed to bring it up to correct operational temperatures.
With data tracking, 88 CEG is able to identify problem utilities and infrastructure and make targeted investments to either extend their life or build replacements, Vincent said. 
According to Jeff Tefend, 88 CEG design manager, the project cost is $2.65 million and is being done in phases.
“Phase 1 was completed in the summer of 2020 and consisted of the interior work to install automatic high-temperature hot water shutoff valves inside the building mechanical rooms,” he said.
Phase 2 is currently under construction. Crews will complete exterior work to replace the underground high-temperature hot water piping to five buildings in the Kittyhawk area.
“The high-temperature hot water replacement is generally progressing to the chapel, bowling alley, USO, Base Exchange Annex/Class Six and the theater in that order,” Tefend said.
Jim Levy, 88 CEG design chief, said the Kittyhawk lines are beyond their useful life expectancy and some are not in good condition. A project to upgrade the system is a necessary action.
“We were definitely worried from a maintenance perspective that we could have more and more emergency outages that would pop up,” he said of the possibility for line failure. “Then even worse, you could have a situation where we really have a problem trying to get heat back on in the winter. I think the big thing is just the reliability of service that will come out of it.”
There is some impact to traffic in the area, as the project required excavating under some of Kittyhawk’s often-busy streets. While the issue could be worse, Levy said traffic engineers also had a role in project planning to help mitigate those concerns.  
The bulk of the project’s work started this spring and completion is expected in early October. According to Levy, the timeline is favorable. 
“We’re doing our best to keep the project on schedule, if not ahead of schedule, like we are right now,” he said.