PRWID Considers Impact Of Damaged Waterline in Helper
|Helper's North Main Street is closed where it crosses at U.S. Highway 6 while construction crews relocate a Price River Water Improvement District sewer line. The road is expected to reopen after crews finish work through the crossing sometime next week. Farther east on Highway 6, PRWID crews have been working since last Friday to repair a waterline which was compromised after a connection was made between the existing line and a relocated line on Thursday.|
Work crews for the Price River Water Improvement District and contractor WW Clyde are cleaning up after a break in a main released an estimated two million gallons of water on Feb. 16 at the south end of the Helper interchange construction site on U.S. Highway 6.
PRWID District Manager Phil Palmer explained at a Feb. 20 board meeting that the line rupture occurred a few hours after work was completed to reroute a portion of the district's line.
As a result of building the interchange in Helper, engineers who designed the project planned to relocate all of the utilities through the construction site.
In the case of PRWID's waterline, the relocation involved laying new pipe through the construction zone.
In order to avoid prolonged interruptions in water service, plans were made to connect the new portion of pipe to the existing portion at two points - one north of the interchange, the other to the south.
Palmer explained that the district made the connection from the existing line to the new line some weeks earlier.
On Feb. 15, the district scheduled a planned service interruption to make the connection at the south end of the interchange near the Janet Street pedestrian crossing.
Palmer explained that project engineers, the state department of transportation and the contractor had originally designed the location of the interconnection and a point where making the connection was not possible.
The later opted for a location where the valve between the old and new sections of line was possible.
However, the connection was positioned within a foot of the joint in the existing line and within a few yards of a series of bends and joints which allow the pipe to pass under the pedestrian crossing.
The new pipeline is also located near the recently replaced water main for Price city.
Palmer noted that the connection point was in disturbed soil and workers noticed movement in the joints near the connection.
As a result, the district attempted to support the connection point and keep it from shifting. Nearby joints between pipe sections were also welded and reinforced to avoid breakage.
"We put the system back in service Thursday night," explained Palmer during the PRWID board meeting. "About 3 a.m. Friday morning [a bend in the pipeline] about 20 feet from the walkway blew. We had a gasket that blew out on the top of the pipe."
The resulting leak released an estimated two million gallons of water from a nearby tank.
Water saturated the surrounding area, but escaped through the walkway and into the Price River located on the other side of the highway.
Because of the saturation to the surrounding ground, the leak posed a threat to the integrity of the highway.
Palmer said WW Clyde shifted traffic away from the saturated area last Friday morning and, for a period, reduced highway traffic to a single lane.
On Friday, PRWID crews completed repairs to the damaged joint and put the system back in service on Saturday afternoon.
But on Monday, the work crews discovered a leak farther down the pipe directly beneath the Janet Street pedestrian walkway.
Palmer explained that repairing the leak presents considerable safety risks because of the weight of the walkway over the location where crews would be working.
The district manager said the preferred option is to replace the entire section of pipe and shift the location of the joints so that they are not under the walkway.
He said the weight of the highway will likely cause additional shifting and the district is taking measures to avoid additional damage as the surrounding fill settles.
Work is expected to be completed in the next few days.
But until the crews replace the compromised section of pipe, PRWID's main line will remain out of service.
Water service to the district is currently being provided at an interconnection with Price city's waterline farther south in the pipeline.
Palmer said the valve is supplying between 400 and 500 gallons per minute to the district's water system and is pressurizing the bulk of PRWID's waterlines.
The only region where there is concern is in the Kenilworth area, where Palmer said the tank is about half full.
The PRWID manager said the district may need to hire a commercial water hauler to provide water to that region if the tank drops too far.
Dalpiaz noted that the break in the line represents one more reason to consider a connection between the water improvement district and Helper's system.
The board had several concerns regarding the possible financial damages to the city.
Board member Karl Hous-keeper noted that, if the con-tractor or the department of transportation had made the connection into PRWID's line, the cost of the damages would likely fall on the construction company or state agency.
But because PRWID per-formed the work on the district's line, there is some question as to where costs of damages will fall.
"Who takes the responsibility for it?" asked Dalpiaz.
The board suggested that the damages could fall on any one of the four involved parties.The involved parties include:
PRWID because the water improvement district performed the work to make the connection.
The contractor and UDOT because the company and the state agency are responsible for the project as a whole.
The engineer or engineers who designed the project and signed off on the design stating it would work.
A fifth entity involved in the area is Helper city, which operates a sewer line in the area.
Palmer indicated that the water improvement district is aware of the sewer line and plans to make the repairs as well as take other measures to ensure the integrity of the city's line.
However, it is too early to tell which entity or entities will be required to pay for damages.
To date, there have been no discussions regarding the matter, pointed out the water improvement district manager.
Palmer said some of the costs are addressed in agreements between the entities, but others may not be.
PRWID board member Tom Matthews noted that, if the matter ends up in the court system, the resolution could be years away.
The board agreed to contact the district's insurance provider and encouraged staff to document the damages as much as possible.