GALLIPOLIS — Following the hiring of a firm to provide engineering services for the repair of a main water line at Chickamauga Creek, the city of Gallipolis has reported that work is continuing and a permanent solution may be in sight.
At a recent city commission meeting, Gallipolis City Manager Randy Finney said engineers with E.L. Robinson Engineering, of Charleston, W.Va. — the only firm that submitted a bid upon the request for engineering services by the city — were in town earlier this month and are continuing to work on plans to permanently fix the water lines that run under Chickamauga Creek.
“We still have not been able to locate where the 1901 line goes into the creek. They’ve been down there digging, and the engineer brought in the Ohio Rural Water Association with some pretty sophisticated equipment and we still can’t find out where it comes out of the creek,” Finney reported. “So, I think what we’ve decided to do is to go ahead and tap into the 1968 line — both lines are feeding there anyway. We’ll just tap into that line, run it from there down and across the creek over to the other side.
“They are working on drawings this week, so hopefully by the first of next week we should have some drawings we can review and see what we need to do to get started with the bid process for that,” he said.
Work on the repair and replacement of the aging lines in the Chickamauga Creek area near the intersection of Ohio 141 and Ohio 7 began following a main water line break in early June that left city water customers without water for approximately one week while city crews worked around the clock to restore water service.
Following the installation of a bypass line across the bridge that spans Chickamauga Creek — a bypass that has since been removed — water was eventually restored, but the city continued to lose thousands of gallons of water per day as workers tracked down and attempted to fix water lines that were installed in the early 1900s.
After a custom valve was installed last month, Finney reported that the actual water leak had all but ceased and engineers would be working on plans to fix the root cause of the problem — the water lines in the Chickamauga Creek area.
As previously reported, the city manager estimated the cost of repairing the main line at Chickamauga Creek at approximately $150,000, with the total cost of the water emergency response and repairs estimated at $250,000.
The Ohio Emergency Management Agency is expected to provide the city reimbursement for 75 percent of the costs associated with this water emergency.
During the most recent city commission meeting, Finney again reported that water usage levels indicate that the fix to contain the leak installed last month is still in place.
“We are not having any water leaks that we can see at this time,” Finney reported “Everything is running really good. We are running 800,000 [gallons] or less on usage, so I think we’ve got everything now under control with the water issues.”
Previously, city officials had discussed forming a partnership with the Gallia County Rural Water Association that would allow the city to tap into the county’s water system — or vice versa — in the event of another water crisis in the future. During last week’s meeting, Finney again touched on this issue stating that he had spoken to a rural water association official and he believes the organization would be in favor of such an agreement.
According to Finney, such an agreement between the city and Gallia Rural Water was also discussed several years ago, but officials backed out of the prospect just prior to implementation of the project.
“The drawings I have were put together in 1999 when this was actually first looked at,” Finney said. “I guess the city backed out at that point, but I think [now] we’re okay from our standpoint.”
Finney further reported that officials with the rural water association believe that connections could be made between the two water systems by utilizing fire hydrants near where the two systems’ water lines are in proximity.
“[The rural water association official] had the recommendation that we actually just put some hydrants in there on each side of us and then just run some piping or hose across to each other. I mean, we’re talking, this may never happen or it may happen,” Finney said. “We’re looking at probably [installing hydrants] in the Bob McCormick Road area, up at the Silver Bridge Plaza, and, he even suggested, possibly down on Route 7 around Lover’s Lane. We are very close on connections down there also. So that would give us both options if we had water issues on either side of us to do that.”
During negotiations in 1999, the city and the rural water association reportedly could not come to agreement on the price of the water — a very small issue to face in light of another major water crisis, according to Finney.
“I think what the problem was before, they were arguing about what the price of water is,” he said. “When you’re in a situation like that, who cares what the water costs at that point if we can get people water? So, I think we’re all in agreement.”
The city manager reported that further research on this possible agreement between the two agencies was needed before any negotiations begin, but the possibility looks promising as an inexpensive way to ensure that water customers can receive water in the event of an emergency.
“I think we need to do some more investigation on that and see if we can get this thing in place,” Finney said. “If we are just talking fire hydrants and we can get that taken care of by Ohio EPA, I think we’ve got a pretty quick solution or fix as a backup supply for us and for them also — it will work both ways.”