According to a recent article by KSAT, the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) is spending $26.5 million to replace six miles of concrete sewer pipe on San Antonio’s Southeast Side with 48-inch fiberglass pipes.  According to SAWS, the fiberglass pipes are state-of-the-art and will last 50 years. According to San Antonio Water System Standard Specifications for Construction, the pipes will have to be a factory-formed conduit of polyester resin, continuous roving glass fibers and silica sand built up in laminates.

The sewer upgrade is part of Texas’ first-ever “consent decree” with the EPA. The consent decree is a $1.1 billion agreement with the EPA to upgrade sewage after a 2013 settlement for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act through sewage spills. The goal is to stop sewage spills that can carry bacteria like E. coli, along with other contaminants, into waterways. Other cities, such as Houston and Corpus Christi, may follow suit.

The new fiberglass pipe will serve more than 50,000 homes in an area Mayor Ivy Taylor says has been ignored by city officials in the past.

“I mean this isn’t the sexy stuff, but this, these are the building blocks of a city,” Taylor said.

The sewer upgrade is not the only project SAWS wants to use fiberglass for. Since 2014, SAWS has been using fiberglass reinforced pipes to construct a desalination plant in San Antonio’s South Bexar County. When operations begin in six months, the facility in South Bexar County will be able to treat up to about 4.4 billion gallons of water annually. That’s roughly equivalent to the amount of water used by almost 100,000 people a year.