South Burlington became a town in 1865 after breaking away from its neighbor the City of Burlington. In the beginning the Town obtained most of its water through individual wells in outlying areas, one deep well, and a 20,000 gallon elevated storage tank. As the Town grew it entered into an agreement in 1936 with the City of Burlington to purchase water, which would supply the Williston Road and Shelburne Road areas of the town.
The South Burlington Water Department was created initially under a special enabling act approved by the legislature in 1935. Under the City Charter the City Manager delegated responsibility for the administrative operation of the Department, subject to the supervision and authority of the Board of Water Commissioners.
Fire districts organized to supply water, storm drainage, or sewerage disposal initially developed portions of the City water distribution system. All of these fire districts have ceased operations and transferred their remaining facilities and debt to the City, except for South Burlington Fire District #1, located in Queen City Park. SBFD #1 contains a deep rock well and an independent storage tank which supplies domestic water to the residents of Queen City Park. Fire service to the Queen City Park area is from a dedicated fire line served from the South Burlington main service transmission main, constructed in 1998.
The City of South Burlington Board of Water Commissioners was dissolved in 1998 so that now the South Burlington City Council through the City Manager directly governs the SBWD. In 1978 the CWD entered into a management contract with the City to provide management, administration, and operational services for the City water distribution system. The South Burlington City Council adopts the annual budget for the SBWD that is prepared by the CWD Retail Superintendent. The City Council sets the water rate for South Burlington water consumers.
The SBWD water bill is a combined bill for these three City owned utilities: Water, Sanitary Sewer and Stormwater. Customer's sewer usage is based on the water meter readings. Connections to the City sewer system are covered by municipal ordinance. The quarterly sewer charges as well as stormwater charges are determined by the appropriate utility and approved by the City Council. The sewer and stormwater departments pay an annual fee to the SBWD for the service of billing and accounting for all sewer and stormwater charges.
As of October 2013 the SBWD has begun a multi-year program (phased) to replace all of the existing radio read devices in the meter reading system with radio read devices supplied from a single manufacturer.
Another goal of this phased approach project is to eliminate the need for rate payers to return their meter readings to the water department on postcards. The majority of this work will not require access inside a residence however, should water department personnel need access inside a residence the ratepayer will be advised by the department via door hanger or letter to schedule an appointment.
The South Burlington water distribution system serves most of the geographic area within the City's municipal boundaries. Currently, only a small portion of the City does not have any water distribution lines, the Southeast Quadrant, but expansion in that area of the City will include water line extensions. Most of the City's residents are supplied water through the distribution system, with notable exceptions being the Queen City Park (South Burlington Fire District #1), some residents along the lakefront, and those residents in the Southeast Quadrant where the distribution system has not been constructed.
Elevations range from 120 feet above sea level along the lakeshore in the Bartlett Bay area and 260 feet above sea level along the Lime Kiln Bridge over the Winooski River, to a high of 450 feet above sea level in the Vermont National Country Club development. Much of the terrain is relatively flat, but there are a number of rolling hills and ridges within the community.
Two High Service transmission mains and one Main Service transmission main extend from the Champlain Water District water treatment plant to the City then on to the remaining CWD consecutive systems. Remote tank level monitors, flow control valves, transmission line pressures, and flow meters are monitored and controlled through a SCADA system located at the water treatment facility. The SBWD maintains almost 100 miles of distribution pipeline within the City.
Pressure Zones: The South Burlington water distribution system is divided basically into two pressure zones: Main Service and High Service.
Main Service: The Main Service area extends from the South Burlington/Burlington Municipal Boundary at Proctor Avenue south along Route 7 (Shelburne Road) to the South Burlington/Shelburne Municipal Boundary. The eastern limit of the Main Service area is the eastern most street limit of almost all of the roads connected to Shelburne Road. The western limit is Lake Champlain, except for the Queen City Park area (SBFD#1) that is not supplied through the South Burlington water distribution system. Some project areas within the main service area are supplied water from nearby CWD High Service transmission mains. Major neighborhoods in the Main Service area include Laurel Hill, the Orchards, Harbor View Condominiums, East Woods, and Bartlett Bay. Large commercial customers in the Main Service area include GE Health Care IITS, Magic Hat Brewery, and several car dealerships along Shelburne Road. The Queen City Park area (SBFD#1), although not supplied potable water for consumers, does have a dedicated fire protection line connected to the Main Service transmission main.
Storage in the main service area is from "Twin" 0.5 million gallon welded steel storage tanks located to the north of Allen Road, described as the South Burlington West Tanks.
High Service: The High Service area covers the remaining portion of the City supplied by the South Burlington water distribution system. Major neighborhoods include Butler Farms, Dorset Farms, Dorset Park, Indian Creek/Ridgewood Condominiums, Vermont National Country Club, Meadowbrook, and the Airport Parkway surrounding neighborhoods. Large commercial customers include the Ethan Allen Park commercial customers, Dorset Park skating facilities, University Mall, Dynapower, and Lane Press. Also within the high service area is the Burlington International Airport/Air National Guard facilities.
Water storage for the high service area is from a 2.1 million gallon tank located on Dorset Street, described as the South Burlington East tank.
Disrtribution Pipe System: The distribution piping in the City of South Burlington varies from old 2" galvanized and 2" PVC to 6" Asbestos-Cement (AC) pipe, Ductile Iron (DI) and Cast Iron (CI), and 8" Ductile Iron (DI). Piping in parts of the distribution system also include 10", 12" and 14" AC and DI.
Service Piping: Service piping consists mostly of either K copper or PVC. There are also some galvanized service lines, although their exact locations are not known. Typically, galvanized service lines are replaced by the SBWD between the main and curb stop when they are found.
Fire Services: Commercial fire services may be either 4", 6" or 8" Ductile Iron or Asbestos-Cement. Many domestic service lines are connected directly to fire service lines supplying the same building.
Curb Stops or Service Valves: Curb stops or service valves are typically placed on the service line at the edge of the municipal right-of-way or easement. Responsibility on the service line is split at the curb stop. The SBWD is responsible for most service lines from the water main up to the curb stop. The property owner is responsible for the service line from the curbstop up to the meter including the valve before the meter. One exception to this rule is when the service line is large enough that the connection is made by a tapping sleeve and valve. In this case, the property owner is responsible for the entire service line beyond the tapping valve. The City of South Burlington Water Ordinance, current edition, further defines water line ownership and responsibility.
Meters: The SBWD is responsible for all meters for which it bills water from. Also included with the meter is the meter connections, known as meter spuds. The City of South Burlington water distribution system contains a majority of Neptune meters as well as a few Sensus and Metron-Farnier meters in commercial settings.
Fire Hydrants: Routine maintenance of all fire hydrants within the City distribution system, whether considered public or private, is the responsibility of the SBWD. The predominant hydrants throughout the water system are Mueller Centurions, Kennedy K-81A's, American Darling, Ludlow, Rensleer, and Waterous Pacers. The SBWD has been undergoing a Ludlow hydrant replacement program for several years, attempting to replace between five to ten Ludlow hydrants each year.
We continue to take a proactive approach to preventative maintenance on the water distribution system. The South Burlington Water Department (SBWD) is proud of its tradition of providing quality service in the most effective and efficient manner. Some of the work performed annually by the department includes:
- Annual maintenance of over 1,100 main line gate valves.
- The maintenance of over 800 fire hydrants including lubricating, flushing and testing.
- Repair of water main breaks occurring as a result of aging infrastructure or contractor damage.
- Ongoing replacement of fire hydrants that have been determined as obsolete by the manufacturer due to age.
- Map and gate valve/curb stop tie page updates.
- Plan review and inspections of new development water mains and services.
- Hydrant flow testing in various areas of the City.
- The installation of new water meters, replacement of older meters, and quarterly reading of the 5,725 meters within the system.
- Cross connection control surveys and backflow device testing.