Plans to replace water pipes on part of Hillsborough Street in Chapel Hill from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to a point near North Street

June 16, 2017

We expect to start work in late June or early July 2017  to replace water pipes along part of Hillsborough Street as shown below. The project may be complete in the winter of 2017-18, but weather and other conditions may affect our contractor..

The purpose of the work is to maintain reliable water service including water for fire protection when needed.


This work will have significant impacts on travel on Hillsborough Street between 7 AM and 4:30 PM on Mondays through Fridays until the project is complete. One lane will normally be closed at our work area, and we will maintain access for bus traffic, service vehicles, emergency vehicles and residents.

We ask for your understanding and patience. This work is needed to maintain reliable water service including water for fire protection when needed. 

E-mail addresses requested: To get information to you quickly, we request and strongly recommend that you share your e-mail address with us for future notices. Please go to to get on our distribution list. 

What the work will involve: Digging trenches in the pavement, installing new pipes, refilling the trench after pipe is installed in a given area, connecting new pipes to water meters along the new pipes, connecting the new pipes to our existing system and, restoring the pavement, etc. in the work area. 

Meters serving residents and businesses along the new lines will be connected to the new pipes after they are tested and approved for use. Some customers will be served through temporary lines running above ground during construction.

How the work may affect you and other citizens 

Traffic and access: Our contractor will normally close one lane of the roadway near our work area, but there may be times when both lanes may be closed. We will maintain access for bus traffic, service vehicles, emergency vehicles and local residents throughout the project.

Driveway access: Will be affected when a pipe is installed in front of a driveway. Our contractor will notify affected residents/businesses before driveway access is affected and try to accommodate any individual requests they can. 

Road conditions: After new pipe is installed at a given place, our contractor will install a temporary asphalt patch as the project proceeds. The patch will not be as smooth as the final patch at the end of the project.  The road will therefore be bumpy during construction and we recommend driving more slowly than usual. To limit costs, we will restore the pavement in our work area rather than the full width of the street.  The street is currently on the Town of Chapel Hill’s list to be resurfaced during the summer of 2018. 

Transit service: The Town’s bus service will continue to work in one direction.  Based on last year’s experience, the bus services will only travel south into Town.  Visit Chapel Hill Transit’s website at for updates to bus routing and schedules.

Interruption of water service: We will need to temporarily interrupt water service when we connect the new pipes to our meters and to existing water lines. We will notify customers 1 to 2 days before interrupting service. 

If there are unplanned interruptions of utility services, we will work with the utilities involved to restore service as soon as possible.

There will be noise and mud, but our contractor will comply with the Town’s noise ordinance. The contractor’s work hours will normally be 7 AM to 4:30 PM on weekdays.

Our drinking water may be discolored or have air bubbles (which make water look milky) during our work. If this happens, please run cold water in a bathtub, etc. for 5 to 10 minutes. If this does not clear up the water, please call us at 919-968-4421 (24 hour number).

How to handle the normal expansion or increased pressure of water when it is heated in a plumbing system
In water line replacement projects, we add devices to prevent water from flowing backward from private plumbing through our meter and into our public water system. These devices are needed to help protect the public water supply from potential contamination. When water cannot flow back through our meter, pressure in your water pipes may increase due to the normal operation of a water heater. When heated, water will expand or its pressure will increase if the water has no room to expand. For more information about devices to handle the expansion of water when heated, please click here.

OWASA does not require you to install a device to handle thermal expansion of water, but we want you to be aware of the potential need for one. We recommend getting advice from a plumber about whether to install such a device.

Updates: After work begins, we will send updates and post them on our project webpage at about once a month, but we will e-mail notices about traffic changes, etc. to people in affected areas whenever needed.

Comments or questions? Please feel free to contact Simon Lobdell, PE, Project Manager, 919-537-4247 or  whenever you have any questions or comments. If you have renters at your property/ies near our project, please ask them to contact us if they have questions or comments or wish to be on our distribution list for future updates. To get our regular emails please go to  

We ask for and we thank you for your understanding and patience during our work to maintain reliable water service in future years.