To remedy persistent problems — blamed mostly on old pipes that can’t handle increased water pressure — Powell city leaders plan to replace about three and a half blocks of waterline on South Division Street. The city recently applied for a $450,000 loan through the State Loans and Investment Board (SLIB) to cover the project’s cost.
Roughly 1,500 feet of waterline will be replaced along Division from Coulter Avenue to Avenue D. That section of Division Street also will be widened by about 3 feet during the project.
The Division Street waterline is key to the city’s water system and how water from the west water tower flows to the east.
The waterline’s frequent issues over the years are frustrating for area residents, businesses and city staff alike.
“If I had a project to pick out that we need done the most, hands down, that’s the one,” said Bill Winters, city water superintendent.
The city is applying for a “principle forgiveness” loan through the state revolving fund. The city qualifies for 75 percent or $337,500 of the $450,000 to be forgiven.
“It’s effectively a 75 percent grant,” said Sean Christensen, city engineer.
The city will make up the remaining 25 percent, or $112,500, of the project cost either through a low-interest loan or from reserves.
If the SLIB approves funding in February, the project could begin next summer or fall.
The aging cast iron waterline likely was installed around the 1940s.
“It’s old World War II era pipe. It’s pushing 70 years old,” said Bill Winters, city water superintendent.
With old pipes come multiple headaches.
In some areas, dirt surrounding the waterline has minerals in it, or areas known as “hot soil.” Over time, certain sections of the pipe have eroded, creating pits about the size of a golf ball and resulting in a waterline break, said Winters.
More troublesome is increased pressure that the old waterline can no longer handle.
“The pipe really started giving us issues with this west water tower,” Winters said.
When the new water tower was installed in 2003, it increased pressure on the Division Street waterline, Winters said.
The west tower drains to provide water to fill the east tower. When the water height in the east tower dips to 15 feet, a signal is sent for the west tower to begin directing water toward the east tower, located near Homesteader Park. The east tower is full at 29 feet. The west tower is full at 39 feet.
That water always goes through Division.
Four pressure reducing valves, or PRVs, located near Division Street allow the water to be transmitted.
“The only way water can get from the west zone to the east zone is through the PRVs,” Christensen said.
Typically, Powell’s water system runs on about 55 pounds of pressure.
Once the water towers are filled and the PRVs close, the pressure increases by roughly 20 pounds to about 75 pounds. The pressure fluctuates throughout the day, based on the water towers’ levels. And that of course is based on how much water city residents and businesses are using.
In its original condition, the waterline likely would have managed increased pressure just fine, Christensen said, but add the wear and tear of 70 years and more water users, and the old pipe simply can’t handle it.
Over the years, the city has done multiple Band-Aid fixes on the Division waterline, Winters said. Several years ago, city crews replaced about 50 feet of the aging waterline as a temporary fix. While that helped reduce the number of breaks in that section, problem areas exist along the 1,500 feet of pipe. That 50 feet of newer pipe will be replaced during this project because it is 6-inch pipe and wouldn’t match the new 8-inch ductile iron line. Christensen said the city will reuse the 6-inch pipe in other projects, if possible.
Winters said he has appreciated the patience and understanding of residents, business owners and tenants in the area around the Division Street waterline.
“We have good cooperation with them,” Winters said. “Everyone has been really good to work with.”
As part of the funding application process, a public meeting will be held on the project. It will be scheduled for sometime in early January at City Hall, Christensen said.
We now have a new improved e-edition. Click here for a free visit!