Investigation narrows water leak search to one line

April Jaynes

June 24, 2014

GALLIPOLIS — Although the city water crisis is under control, the quest to repair the main water break is still under way.

City officials conducted an investigation Friday that revealed the exact water line responsible for the leak, according to a recent news release via the city’s website. Officials believed they pinpointed the line responsible for the leak, but discovered Friday that one of the two main water lines they thought was faulty, which was installed in 1968 near Chickamauga Creek and is tied into the line at fault, is still functioning properly.

“Even after we identified that line (the 1968 line) in the creek, we were able to put water through that line again, and with it running full force we could not see any water coming or stirring up in the creek, so it was kind of a surprise to us with that amount of water still going into the creek that you couldn’t see it,” City Manager Randall Finney said.

He also said that the plans of the 1968 water line are very difficult for city workers to read. The plans were originally designed in 1967 by a company that is no longer in business — E.S. Preston Associates, Inc. Finney said the city has one copy of the plans and is having difficulty tracking down the original plans of the water lines.

The other main water line that officials have now determined to be the source of the water leak is in the middle of the creek and was installed in 1901. City officials have yet to physically uncover the faulty line. Finney said officials are having trouble identifying water lines and uncovering the 1901 broken line due to a lack of prints and documentation.

“We know that it’s right down the middle of Vine Street and we can see where it came into the river,” Finney said. “The lines were put in in 1901 — and back in 1901, I don’t think the creek was very wide at all from the prints we saw. It was actually called Paint Creek at that time. There were no drawings that talked about elevation, or depths, or locations of the lines at that time. It was just drawings with general directions of where those lines went.”

The city plans to replace the 1901 line and some faulty valves. Finney said the process is estimated to take six to eight weeks, and city workers will remove the bypass line by next week because it has served its purpose.

Finney said a lack of funding has most likely prevented the city from replacing the 1901 line in the past.

“I’m sure it should have been replaced somewhere along the way,” he said.

The total estimated cost of replacing the water is $250,000, with an estimated cost of $150,00 to replace the water line and $50,000 to $100,000 in additional costs, depending on the amount of valves that need replaced and the amount of labor the project requires, Finney said.

The replacement of the line is not expected to interrupt any water service for residents. Finney said he is thankful for the understanding and support of residents and the labor of the city workers.

“The city workers have spent many hours to do what they did,” he said. “They did what needed to be done. They knew we had a situation that needed to be resolved.”