|Councilman Robert Welch has documented the fact that a previously unused water source near Colton belongs to Helper. The water will be routed into the city when the new Fish Creek line construction project starts.|
In a town that once had three water sources serving citizens residing in the city, the drop to a single water source has taken its toll.
Since spring 2002, Helper has not had use of the Fish Creek spring line.
According to Helper Councilman Robert Welch, the line had to be turned off permanently due to winter freezing that broke several sections of pipe.
The councilman oversees the city's water department.
When the line was originally constructed in the 1920s, redwood was used as the primary building material, pointed out Welch.
In the 1970s, the redwood line was replaced with a transite pipe composite which contained asbestos.
When the change was made, the councilman indicated that it was not cost effective for the city to bury the entire line.
Therefore, city officials decided to leave a significant portion of the transite pipe uncovered.
During the last 30 years, breakage caused by the exposure has lead to several sections of the water transmission line being replaced with plastic piping.
To prevent additional breakage, the Fish Creek line was usually shut down and drained yearly during the cold months.
However, according to Welch, in the winter of 2001 the water was not shut down because the summer's drought left Helper in desperate need for the water.
More than two years later, Helper is preparing to take bids on the construction of three miles of line to replace the defunct line in Fish Creek.
With a $250,000 grant from the Community Impact Board and another $250,000 Community Development Block Grant from the Southeastern Utah Association of Governments, Helper has enough funds to construct the new pipeline.
Welch said the entire project should be able to be completed without a cost to Helper residents.
The need for the Fish Creek line to be functional is greater than ever. Early in the spring, Helper lost another source of water to the city, the Colton well. The well was rendered useless when the pump shaft went down.
Utah Power & Light is currently trying to get the well back up and running.
With no Fish Creek line or Colton well, Helper has been relying solely on the water from Canyon Springs.
Helper has been purchasing water from the Price River Water Improvement District at the cost of $1.16 per thousand gallons until the Colton well is back in service or until the Fish Creek line can be completed.
Welch said the council had considered just patching the pipe and continue using the system that was already in place.
However, after researching the extent of the damage to the Fish Creek line, he said he believed the pipe could no longer be nursed along.
For an estimated $4,500, Helper could buy the materials to repair the lines.
However, Welch said the $4,500 does not account for man hours, gas costs and any unforeseen problems.
The water would also have to be shut down prior to construction of the new pipe in order to prevent contamination of the water.
It was decided in the last meeting of the city council that patching the pipe, even temporarily until the new pipe was completed, was not a feasible option.
"I feel it's better for the community to have this line down and replace it rather than just patch it," asserted Welch. "Yes, it is costing us money to buy water but it is a hardship the city is going to have to take to get something done and something done right."
Bidding on the Fish Creek line will take place on July 8 and the notice of award is expected on July 9.
The contractor for the project will be asked to treat the line as an emergency situation and begin construction as soon as possible.
Welch predicts that construction should begin within two to three weeks of the notice of award.
Helper citizens are encouraged to voluntarily make efforts to conserve water to help ease the water situation.
If the water condition worsens, a mandatory restriction may have to be put on the city later in the summer, concluded Welch.