Helper city has completed construction on the Fish Creek water line improvement project. The project is currently undergoing bacteria tests before the line can be activated.
Three miles of the Fish Creek line, which has been out of use by the city since spring 2002, were replaced by the city with the help of $500,000 in grants from the Utah Community Impact Board and a Southeastern Utah Association of Governments' community development block grant.
Several sections of the pipeline had frozen during the 2001-2002 winter season, making replacement of the pipe necessary.
According to Helper water master Gary Harwood, the Fish Creek line has provided up to 25 percent of the city's water in the past.
"It's a pretty healthy loss at 50 to 80 gallons a minute," commented Harwood.
Without the Fish Creek line, Helper has been depending on the city's source in Canyon Springs as well as purchasing additional supplies from the Price River Water Improvement District.
The new Fish Creek line was completed in mid-November and has since passed all pressure tests.
The city is currently having trouble passing bacteria tests, which is preventing the line from being activated.
However, according to Harwood, the water will likely be chlorinated Tuesday and new tests will be run.
When Helper applied for emergency grants, the average age of residents in the community was considered as a factor for the city's funding need.
According to Helper's 2003 conservation plan, the average population of the city is nearly 12 years older than the rest of Utah and is aging faster than the rest of the state.
That aging generally brings with it fixed incomes and lower assessed tax values on older homes. The result is lower city revenues, stated the plan.
"An older water system is stretching Helper's ability to maintain much less modernize the water delivery system," asserted the plan. "While the city has a history of excellent water production and water rights, the old systems and management procedures should be updated. Historically several city owned water uses have not been metered or read."
Drought has also been a consistent problem for Helper as well as the rest of the county.
To assure that water is used as efficiently as possible in Helper, the city council also approved to pay to have the town's lines tested for leaks in the spring.
According to Harwood, a company with specialized listening devices will take surveys of the soil in the city to determine how far sound will travel.
The company will then listen through fire hydrants, shut-off valves and meters and be able to tell how far away leaks are from the source.
The technology will allow the city to find and repair leaks that would otherwise go unrepaired, pointed out Harwood.
"A lot of leaks will never surface," Harwood said. "Without listening for them, they'll never be detected."
The conservation plan also encourages Helper residents to consider following several conservation tips to assure that limited water is used as efficiently as possible.
Local residents are encouraged to:
Check toilets for leaks.
A leak may be wasting more than 100 gallons of water a day.
To check, put a little food coloring in the toilet tank
If, without flushing, the coloring begins to appear in the bowl, there is a leak.
Adjust or replace the flush valve or call a plumber.
Stop using the toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket.
Every time a cigarette butt, facial tissue or other small bit of trash is flushed, five to seven gallons of water is wasted.
Put two plastic bottles in the toilet tank. A toilet can flush just as efficiently with less water than it now uses.
To cut down water waste, put an inch or two of sand or pebbles in each of two plastic quart bottles to weight them down.
Fill them with water, replace the lid and put them in the tank, safely away from the operating mechanisms.
Better yet, replace the old toilet with a new low-flow toilet. They are readily available in a variety of styles and colors.
Opt for the reliable brand names.
Take shorter showers. Long hot showers waste five to ten gallons of water every unneeded minute.
Limit showers to the time it takes to soap up, wash down and rinse off.
Install water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors. Most shower heads put out five to 10 gallons of water a minute, while three gallons is actually enough for a refreshing cleansing shower.
Local hardware or plumbing supply stores stock inexpensive water-saving shower heads that can be easily installed.
For even less money, a small plastic insert can be purchased to limit flow through the present shower head.
Turn off the water after wetting a toothbrush. After wetting a toothbrush and filling a glass for rinsing, there is no need to keep water pouring down the drain.
Rinse razors in the sink. Before shaving, partially fill the sink with a few inches of warm water. This will rinse the blade just as effectively as running water and far less wastefully.
Check faucets and pipes for leaks. Even the smallest drip from a worn washer can waste 50 or more gallons of water a day. Larger leaks can waste hundreds.
Use an automatic dishwasher only for full loads. Every time the dishwasher is run, it uses about 25 gallons of water.
Don't leave the water running for rinsing if washing dishes by hand. In kitchens with two sinks, fill one with soapy water and one with rinse water. With one sink, gather all the washed dishes in the dish rack and rinse them with an inexpensive spray device.
Don't let the faucet run while cleaning vegetables. The same purpose can be served by putting a stopper in the sink and filling it with clean water.
Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator. This ends the wasteful practice of running tap water to cool it off for drinking.