Municipal water infrastructure repairs progressing |

Municipal water infrastructure repairs progressing

Ryan Hoffman

Repairs to Rifle’s water intake infrastructure continue to progress rapidly without any significant hiccups in the past several weeks.

If the trend continues, the city could consider lifting its even-odd watering restriction, which has been in place since June 9, on outdoor use as soon as July 10.

The restriction limits municipal water users with an even number address to even number days, such as July 2, and odd number addresses to odd number days.

Restrictions, in one form or another, have curbed Rifle water customers outdoor use for all of June. An all-out ban on outdoor usage for municipal customers took effect June 1 when crews discovered the location of a leak in the city’s raw water line — the only line that transports Colorado River water from a pump station, located near the entrance to Cottonwood Park, to the Graham Mesa water treatment plant.

Problems with the pump station arose shortly after the break in the line was repaired.

Temporary pumps were brought in to allow the city’s three water pumps to be taken off-line and repaired. Since then, the process has gone smoothly, said Jim Miller, Rifle utilities director.

As of Tuesday evening, the city had brought its largest pump back online and determined it was operating normally. One of the two smaller pumps also was installed after repairs and it too appeared to be operating without any issues.

That leaves one pump in need of repairs and re-installation. It is due back on or around July 8. Given the need to let the pump operate before declaring it operationally reliable, Miller said July 10 is not an unreasonable date for when the city could consider lifting the restriction.

However, without the third pump the city does not have firm redundancy in the event that something goes wrong with one of the other pumps. Temporary pumps supplied by Rain for Rent are on standby, essentially acting as the city’s redundancy, but until the third pump is operational the restrictions will remain in place.

“Watering restrictions will remain in effect until we have certainty about that third pump,” Miller said.

As for costs, Miller said he expects that number to come in below the additional $250,000 in emergency funds authorized by City Council on June 10. The actual cost of diesel fuel — the largest single expense in the projections presented to council — is much lower than estimated.

If repairs are completed in the hoped for time frame, it could mean lifting the restrictions just under the five-week estimate provided on June 10 — surely good news for residents restricted to watering every other day during a month that has been both drier and hotter than monthly averages.

The heat, combined with the closure of the splash park at Centennial Park, put some local parents in a difficult position earlier this month.

They received some good new on June 17 when the city announced it was re-opening the splash park on a limited schedule seven days a week. The decision came after studying water usage and determining what the system could handle, said Tom Whitmore, Rifle Parks and Recreation director.

As her children played in the splash park Tuesday, Rifle resident Esperanza Luna said it was nice to have the park back up and running.

While they were understanding, many people called the city and asked when the park would reopen, Whitmore said. The city hoped to have it operational by the July 3 celebration this weekend, but it was fortunate to open it sooner.

“So far it’s been working alright and we haven’t had any issues or anything,” Whitmore said.

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