Rifle water restrictions could last 5 weeks; council allocates $250K
Rifle City Council on Friday approved additional emergency spending up to $250,000 to repair damages to the city’s raw water delivery system — a process that will likely leave outdoor watering restrictions in place for at least the next five weeks.
The additional spending for remaining costs anticipated by the city was approved after council ratified an estimated cost to date of $104,865. The actual estimate for remaining costs was $243,500 but council allowed for up to $250,000 as a precaution.
Both numbers are estimates, and the remaining costs could be considerably less if the city obtains its own source of fuel, rather than relying on fuel from its contractor for the remainder of the repair process, City Manager Matt Sturgeon informed council. The estimated cost for fuel to power mobile water pumps was the largest anticipated cost at $100,000.
Additionally, staff will look for cost savings in the budget to help defray financial hits to reserve funds. Sturgeon cautioned that utility revenue from water will be considerably less for June.
City crews Friday continued to assess possible damage to the water pumping system caused by a break in the raw water line — the only pipeline that delivers Colorado River water to the Graham Mesa treatment plant. The location of the break was discovered June 1.
Water restrictions have been in place since then, but on Thursday the city lifted its ban on outdoor water use, replacing it with an even-odd restriction. The change allows municipal water customers with an odd number address to water on odd number days, and even number addresses to water on even number days.
In reviewing the sequence of events and restrictions, council on Friday did not raise issues with how the situation was handled.
Operations at a secondary water intake site — which was done in order to begin repairs to the city’s water pump station — ran smoothly throughout Thursday into Friday, Sturgeon said, while thanking water customers for their understanding throughout the process.
Jim Miller, Rifle utilities director, said replacement check valves and butterfly valves for each of the city’s three water pumps were on site. One set of valves had already been replaced. After taking things apart, city employees found a piece of driftwood lodged in one of the check valves, which are intended to prevent water from flowing back through the pump when it is not in use.
Over the next few weeks, Miller said the city will evaluate the pump motors to determine if they still function properly. The lack of pressure forced the motors to run at a high rate for an extended period of time.
Miller was traveling to Grand Junction Friday evening to receive a diagnosis on two the three pumps. He refrained from speculating on the possible damage to the pumps before getting that information.
The estimated remaining expenses include $46,000 for pump station repair and $15,000 for vertical turbine pump inspections, repair and reconditioning.
Once the city has solid numbers, those expenditures will come back to council as a supplemental budget.
Sturgeon, in noting that some residents have voiced confusion and frustration about watering at certain facilities, stated that many city facilities run off raw water, such as the Rifle Creek, and are not subject to the water restrictions. Those facilities include Deerfield Park, Davidson Park, Macintosh Park, Rifle Cemetery and Centennial Park.
Wamsley Elementary School and the football and soccer fields at Rifle High School also use raw water sources outside of the Rifle municipal water system, as do some private businesses and residences.
Rifle Police Chief John Dyer said his department will continue to educate the public on the restrictions.
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