A major water line burst near City Park Aug. 3. As a result, the city shut water off between 100 North and 400 North for part of the day Friday while city crews located and repaired the break, according to city reports. Water service was restored by 3:15 p.m.
The break happened after a repair on Thursday night. City crews were backfilling the trench where the repair had been made Friday morning when a joint on the 12-inch main line failed. The joint was not part of the repair from the night before, according to City Communications Manager Lisa Church. The water line involved was an old, cast-iron pipe installed in the 1960s, said City Engineer Chuck Williams.
Generally speaking, Williams said, good-quality pipes need to be replaced every 50 or 60 years. Much of Moab’s water infrastructure dates back to the 1950s and 1960s, making some pipes nearly 70 years old.
Like in many towns, a large portion of the city budget goes to maintaining infrastructure. More than $9 million--53 percent of the city budget--is going towards infrastructure in fiscal year 2019, according to Williams. “The larger municipalities may have more opportunities for funding … rural communities have a harder time,” Williams said. But Moab has a plan: they are in the midst of working on an asset management program to inventory and evaluate what makes financial sense: continuing to use and repair the current system, or replace parts of it.
Infrastructure can be a hard sell for municipalities and many lag behind on infrastructure spending. “Out of sight, out of mind,” is how Williams describes water and sewer infrastructure. “The only time you really think about water as a general user is if it’s coming out of the tap, right? Same way with the sanitary sewer. If the sink drains and the toilet drains, we’re all happy … if it seems to be working, why do anything?”
However, Williams and others in the city have been petitioning for a bond for several needed water and sewer projects. The $2.5 million bond will finance the replacement of 2,000 feet of sewer under 100 West and a new north sewer trunk line. It will also pay for the modeling and design for a mile of water pipe from 400 East to the tank on Powerhouse Lane, as well as a new system at Knob Hill, where Williams said the old system of pipes has failed several times.
“What this helps us do is try to start fixing some of the problems,” Williams said. To replace all of the aging pipes in Moab would cost much more.
A public hearing for the bond is set for Aug. 28 at a meeting of the Moab City Council, according to Church. The council will vote on the bond at a later date.