Water leak is fixed
It took city workers only two days to locate and repair a leak in Baldwin City's water line, as well as a leak in Rural Water District No. 4's water line.
City officials realized Oct. 8 there was a leak in a section of Baldwin's line located in the Baker Wetlands, which is buried under six feet of earth, said City Administrator Larry Paine.
By Oct. 9, the leaks, including the ones in the RWD No. 4, had been repaired.
"The water district and the city staff worked very closely trying to coordinate issues with one another," Paine said.
Douglas County also helped in the repair process, he said.
Workers found two holes, both the sizes of fists, in the 12-inch-in-diameter ductile iron line near the intersection of 31st and Haskell streets. Paine said the holes were made from the corrosion of the pipe.
"It's sitting in a wet environment," he said. "It rusted from the outside, not from the inside."
The holes leaked 75,000 gallons of water an hour, which dug a giant crater around the line.
The leak in RWD No. 4's line was a direct result of the Baldwin line's leak, Paine said.
RWD No. 4's water line runs parallel to Baldwin's line. Scott Schultz, district administrator for RWD No. 4, said the crater made by the gushing water left the district's line unsupported.
"When the dirt was removed, the line sagged and then broke in two places," Schultz said.
Both breaks were at coupling points in the line, he said.
Last week's leak took less time to repair, Paine said, than the leak to the same line in 1998, which took $100,000 and five days to fix.
"We were smarter this time," he said.
Last week's leak was discovered after a daily check of the three water meters between Lawrence and Baldwin, he said. City workers check the meters every day to make sure the consumption levels read the same in all three. When one level is higher than the others, he said that's when the city knows there's a problem.
"Then it just becomes the process of isolating the leak," he said. "And the last place we look is the wetlands."
Once the leak was located, workers began building a levy road to the section.
Paine said the whole process went faster because workers used three dump trucks to haul the dirt for the road, instead of just the one truck that was used in 1998.
"We were able to put down 45 loads of dirt in a lot less time and we were able to get the equipment out there to pump the hole," he said.
Once the section around the pipe was drained, workers wrapped and bolted clamps, metal bands with rubber linings on the insides, around the holes.
"It creates the patch that keeps further leaks from happening," Paine said.
The cost to fix the leak will be considerably less than the cost to fix the 1998 leak, he said.
"Right now, we don't know fully what the cost is on it," Paine said. "But if we have $10,000 on this, I'll be surprised."
He said the costs will include two dump truck rentals and two track hoe rentals. What will keep the cost down is the dirt.
"We did not have to buy dirt like we did three years ago," he said.
The dirt the city used was taken from a development site in Lawrence and the treatment plant digester demolition site in Baldwin.
Paine said the water supply for Baldwin wasn't a big issue.
"All in all, everybody had water," he said. "The thing we needed people to understand, and they did, was the conservation process."
Schultz said very few rural water patrons had problems.
"We had a handful, maybe three or four people, who experienced low water pressure," he said. "But that was immediately fixed once the line was back open."
Another leak is something that could happen again in the future, Paine said.
"The only way to avoid any future wetland water leaks is to move the pipe," he said. "There isn't any alternative to that at the moment.
"We're hoping the realignment of the South Lawrence Trafficway will allow for the relocation of the pipe in a more suitable location," he said. "What we're hoping is that the project with (Kansas Department of Transportation) will tie all that together."