Water Line Work

The source of a leaking water line has been found and it won’t be an easy fix. 

City staff and officials were hopeful a water line leaking near the railroad tracks along West Park Road could be repaired easily. Monday night, City Engineer Jonathan Zimmermann said that won’t be the case.

Last week aldermen authorized the city to hire KJ Unnerstall Construction, Washington, to locate the source of the leak. The goal was to find the problem and come up with a plan to fix it.

Monday night at the parks, buildings, development and public services committee meeting, Zimmermann provided an update on the project. He said it wasn’t the best news.

“Unfortunately it is leaking within the existing casing underneath the railroad track,” he said. “It’s not a leak we can fix. It’s a 12-inch cast iron water line and the whole bottom is rusted out, so it’s just squirting like a sprinkler system.”

Zimmermann said the leak is encased in a metal pipe for some reason. Being encased makes it impossible to work with, he said.

“We can neither get the pipe out or get a new pipe in,” he said.

The city also is lacking the necessary equipment to work at the site. Zimmermann said the city’s only option is to basically start over.

“We’re going to rebore the railroad tracks and install a new pipe,” he said.

Zimmermann said the city is in the process of contacting boring companies to work on the project. 

“Once we have that arranged, we’ll bring that back to you all,” he said. “We can’t slow down this project.”

The urgency is needed because of industries the water line serves. The line provides water to Silgan Plastic Food Containers and Buddeez, Inc. 

In the event of a line failure, it could be days, if not weeks, before Silgan would have access to water. City Administrator Russell Rost said Silgan reports it loses $100,000 for every hour it has to suspend operations.

In order to prevent that from happening, the city moved forward with a plan last week to instal a new valve. Under the city’s emergency provisions, Rost authorized the purchase of a 12-inch valve for $9,995. 

The valve allowed businesses like Silgan to have water access even if the line failed, Rost said.

The downside, Zimmermann said, is Buddeez is now being serviced by a six-inch line instead of a 12-inch line. The smaller line is good enough to operate, but it makes the companies sprinkler system inadequate.

“It’s a back feed line coming out of a residential district,” he said. “It can’t support the fire flow necessary for their facility.”

The city had hoped the valve would allow Buddeez access to the 12-inch line, but Zimmermann said the line was built in a way that the plan just didn’t work. 

The only way to fix it is to install a new 12-inch line.

Zimmermann said he’s been in contact with VSN Railway, which owns the rail, about the project. 

“We’re going to need to enter into a utility license with them,” he said. 

Zimmermann told aldermen the goal was to keep “plugging” away at the issue and taking it step by step. He promised frequent updates.

Rost said the board would be updated on costs at a later date — once the city gets a clearer picture on how expensive the project is going to be.

“It’s a mess right now,” he said.