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Front Page » January 4, 2007 » Local News » PRWID Learns 700 Feet Of Helper Sewer Line Falls Within C...
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PRWID Learns 700 Feet Of Helper Sewer Line Falls Within City Limits

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Sun Advocate reporter

Though the final outcome of a sewer line rerelocation by Price River Water Improvement District is now up in the air, pipes for the project sit near the proposed sewer line site south of Helper. The board learned Tuesday that approximately 700 feet of the proposed line would be installed in Helper city limits, raising concerns about which agency will construct and operate the line once it is installed.

Plans by the Price River Water Improvement District to relocate a sewer fallout line PRWID acquired from Helper in 2006 may be delayed after the board learned that approximately 700 feet of the new line would be within the city's limits.

The line in question serves many Helper residents and was turned over to the district by the city in a split decision vote in August. At that time, the water district agreed to acquire the sewer line from the point where it joins a PRWID sewer line to the Helper city limits, near Birch Street.

Since August, PRWID staff has studied the line and determined that much of it needs to be replaced.

In reviewing possible plans, staff determined that it would be best to reroute the sewer line.

Currently, the sewer line heads south from the west end of Birch street and crosses a parcel of farm land, then follows Spring Glen Road for about a quarter mile before joining the PRWID sewer main.

In October, the PRWID board approved designs for an alternate route. Instead of crossing the farm land, the line would run west of the farm land and take a shorter, more direct route to the PRWID line. Since that time, the district has secured easements and purchased materials for the relocated line.

But questions on how to proceed arose after board member Tom Matthews reported that the city boundary is some 700 feet south of where water improvement district officials had been told.

"The motion was to take care of the sewer line to the Helper city limits," said Matthews.

As a result, it is unclear what the district should do about the 700-foot gap between the location of the existing sewer line and the city boundary.

"I told you to leave the line the way it was. The line works perfectly fine so just leave it," said board member Mike Dalpiaz, who is mayor of Helper. "It plugs occasionally -- not very often at all."

That is the same message Dalpiaz gave the board when he proposed the line acquisition last summer. However, Dalpiaz' view is not shared by the entire board nor the district's administration.

Assistant PRWID manager Jeff Richens said the line is in bad shape south of Helper's city limits.

"I don't think it's an option to leave the line as it is," he said.

Between Birch Street and the city boundary, the line is not perfect, but it's not in bad shape.

That section, where the line crosses the parcel of farm land, was replaced in the 1990's.

Richens explained that there are bellies and inconsistent grades in that portion, but that the pipe is in better shape.

With that information, Dalpiaz suggested leaving the sewer line in its current position until it crosses the city boundary, and then replacing the line from that point to the PRWID main line.

However, there were concerns with following the Helper mayor's suggestion.

First, the sewer line would cross the farm land twice. Securing an easement from the property owner for two crossings could be complicated.

Second, the current line is at a shallow depth - about four feet, according to Richens. Future developments would be restricted by that depth.

Finally, PRWID has already secured easements and purchased materials for the relocation as approved by the board.

"We have everything ordered and everything is here," explained Kathy Dahl, the district's secretary.

Some materials were custom ordered and will likely not be able to be used in another project, Richens told the board.

Board member Richard Tatton questioned who would pay for the sewer line within the city. The answer depends on who owns the line after it is installed.

"If we are going to turn the line over to Helper after we construct it, then we pay to install it. If we're going to maintain jurisdiction, then we're going to charge them for it," said board member Karl Houskeeper.

Further, if future development connects to PRWID's sewer line within city limits, the board will need to determine how billing for sewer services will be handled.

"It's not uncommon that we have lines in city limits," said District Manager Phil Palmer. The district owns water and sewer lines in Price, Wellington and elsewhere in Helper.

When customers living in a city connect to a PRWID line, they pay impact fees to the district along with the city's established rates.

If the district pays for the line to be built in city limits, Matthews said the customers should pay the higher retail rate to PRWID.

Billing for the customers would have to be performed by Helper. And Dalpiaz said he opposes any action which would complicate the city's billing structure.

Tuesday's discussion of the line was not on the PRWID agenda so the board could not make any formal action.

The matter is scheduled for formal discussion and possible PRWID decision on Jan. 16.

"I think we need to hear from Helper City Council - what their feelings are," echoed board member Karl Houskeeper.

However, Dalpiaz said the district should go forward with the project as planned.

"We've already debated it . The council has already approved it," said Dalpiaz.

"One of the owners of the property is on the city council and he's one hundred percent aware of it. He's the one who did most of the talking on the whole issue anyway," added the Helper mayor.

The Helper council reviewed maps of the area in question and discussed the matter in detail.

"It's already been moved. It's been approved. The design is already there. We approved the design to go along the river. I think it's done," continued Dalpiaz. "We can hash this over everytime anyone wants to go dig up another document for the next 20 years if we want."

Other PRWID board members said they would prefer formal approval from the Helper council.

"Perhaps it ought to come before [Helper's council]. Maybe they don't want our line in Helper city limits," said board member Keith Cox.

The agenda for Helper's Jan. 4 council session closed before the PRWID board met on Tuesday. The city council cannot act on the matter before PRWID's next board meeting.

Helper's next council meeting will not be until Jan 18, delaying PRWID's decision until as late as Feb. 6, when the board will meet again.

But as the PRWID board and Helper council wait to make formal action, a deadline for construction completion is approaching. In order to not interfere with agricultural activities, the district needs to finish the project before April.

With an estimated three-week project duration, the pipeline reconstruction needs to start no later than early March.

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