Hood River public works crews are racing the snow to get the final segments of a water line expansion project laid this fall.
Crews have been cutting the current 14-inch pipe in zones and transitioning to a 24-inch pipe to increase the city’s water transmission capacity.
While crews got good weather for most of September and October, they have still faced some challenges as the project nears completion.
City Public Works Director Mark Lago said that crews are around halfway done with work for the final segment of the line, which covers about a mile and a half to the city’s water source.
The final portion has been one of the most difficult of the project.
The line leaves the main road and cuts through a wooded area to the source. In order to get in the new 24-inch pipe, 20 feet of trees on each side of the pipe had to be cleared and a road put in.
Additionally rock just under the surface where the line is to be put has required use of a rock hammer to break it up.
While the going has gotten tougher, public work crews and construction workers know they don’t have much time to spare on delays.
“It’s more complicated now because snow is around the corner,” Lago said.
Crews saved the portion of line closest to the source for last because it is currently the driest time for construction in that area because there is less runoff coming from melting snow on Mount Hood.
The project has faced a few other challenges as well, from customers near the top of the line losing water pressure to the city’s Riverdale Reservoir dropping 10 feet.
During the weekend of Oct. 19 the city’s Riverdale Road Reservoir, which usually has a level of around 32 feet, dropped to 21 feet as public work crews temporarily shut off the line to make the switchover between the old and new lines.
“At that point we stopped what we were doing and did nothing but pump for 48 hours,” Lago told the Hood River City Council.
By the following Monday the reservoir was restored to its normal level.
“It’s had some challenges; the crew has worked a lot of extra hours trying to get all this done,” Lago said.
While the going is tough on the final section of the line, Lago is confident the line will be running fully on 24-inch pipe by the end of the month. That means water use restrictions should be going away by mid-December after the new line is fully tested.
While the water line construction should be finished by the end of the month, Lago said some punch list items, such as asphalt patching, will likely have to wait until spring to be fully completed.
He gave credit to the public works crews, construction workers and engineers who have been working to get the project done on time.
“It’s been a real team effort between engineers, public works and construction companies,” he said.
He also thanked water customers, particularly non-city residents who have seen the worst of the water shortages, for their patience and understanding and said that when the project is done it will be worth it.
Said Lago: “In the future we will be able to supply this city with its full water right for many years to come.”