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City maintains 208 miles of water lines


Most people are probably grateful that we don’t have to take time to walk to the stream and fetch buckets of water home for the day’s needs.

The Water Construction Department is housed in a building built in the 1960s with offices tucked here and there. Wiring for modern-day communication and computer systems is sometimes visible – but the City of Harrison IT Director David Wilson keeps them going with access from the field with laptops.

The water construction department has apps on their desktop computers, phones, and laptops that give them current information about the Bear Creek Meter Station and each water tank in the city.

Water Construction Supervisor Charlie Jones has the ability to monitor each water tower, knowing exactly how many gallons of water are coming in and going out, as well as the security of each site. He can regulate the PRV (pressure regulating valve) if a system needs adjustments. If the power goes out, he is notified and makes the necessary adjustments. He can even see the temperature inside the meter stations to ensure the building stays warm enough in winter.

The team of men in the department takes care of all emergencies 24/7. Someone is on call and notified by the police if a water or sewer pipe has been broken. An average day for the team is to first respond to any emergencies or leaks discovered during the night. They also perform water “taps” for a new home or business under construction. They must tap into an existing water or sewer line, tap it off, and then put the proper lines into the structure.

Back at the office are huge paper maps of the city, divided into squares labeled with a corresponding number for a more detailed view of that area. The maps are so oversized that opening one up and finding the information needed would be very difficult inside a vehicle; but with the laptops in the field, they can easily locate the information needed to find the lines they need to tap into.

There’s another set of huge maps for manhole locations in the city, water lines, and sewer lines.

When new lines have to be constructed, the 24-inch casing weighs more than 100 pounds for a small section. Special equipment must be on-site to properly place the lines into the ground and at the correct depth so they don’t freeze in the winter. Then, inside that coupling, a 20-foot long PVC pipe is placed that will actually carry the treated water to the customer. “All parts and pipes are disinfected before installation.”

“We have 208 miles of water lines in the city and 114 miles of sewer pipe. GIS Coordinator Carl Riine puts all the water and sewer pipes on the maps,” Jones said.

“I strongly agree the public needs to have an idea of what is involved in water and sewer, and it’s not just a simple turn of the faucet or flush of a toilet,” Jones said.


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