Fraser to make costly replacement of 700 feet of water line along Doc Susie Avenue
An emergency waterline replacement has become a costly project for the town of Fraser over the last few weeks.
The town has spent more than $100,000 to replace failing iron pipes with more modern plastic pipes, following a major leak along Doc Susie Avenue in late February.
On Feb. 23, the pipe, located between Mill Avenue and Elk Creek Drive near the Fraser Valley Baptist Church, burst and spilled more than 260,000 gallons of water until it was contained. The town was aware of the leak within 15 minutes of the initial incident, and it took officials about an hour-and-a-half to contain it, according to Water and Wastewater Superintendent Adam Cwiklin.
“We have a lot of alarms within the system,” said Cwiklin. “I would say we were aware of the leak within 15 minutes, and calling our field agents. From the main break we lost I’d guess 260,000 gallons in an hour-and-a-half before we had it controlled. Which is actually pretty good.”
That weekend the town did a patch, put a splice in the pipe and reburied the blowout section, a process that cost about $20,000. But the problems didn’t end there. While monitoring the area the town discovered another wet spot, and leaking further down the line.
“That’s why it has turned into a larger project,” said Cwiklin. “So as we’ve been going we’ve been investigating the quality of pipe, and at this point we do feel it’s best to replace the entire line from Mill to Elk Creek.”
Cwiklin said the pipes they found were likely installed in several different eras from the 1980s through the 2000s, and noted that they didn’t last as long as they were anticipated, an industry standard of about 50 years. This is likely due to with high acidity in the water and a high water table in Fraser, according to Cwiklin. Because pine forests surround the area, water picks up acidity from the pine needles before entering the soil, and because of the high water table, pipes sit in the acidic water for a large potion of the year.
Because of this the town decided to replace the waterline all the way from Elk Creek Drive to Mill Avenue, about 700 feet of piping total. About half the pipe has already been replaced with C900 plastic piping, a process that cost about $100,000. The other half of the line will be replaced sometime in May after it thaws.
Cwiklin said that the town has preventative measures to try and prevent leaks such as annual leak detection protocols, but said leaks like this often can’t be avoided.
“Waterlines kind of expose themselves when they have an issue,” said Cwiklin. “It’s hard to say that anything could have been done better to avoid it. These things unfortunately happen. We do annual leak detection and it did not show up last summer…Generally these things start small and then grow. This one must have grown pretty quickly.”
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