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Paradise will install meter to measure water flow from spring

September 22nd, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By D. Whitney Smith

PARADISE — Water falling from the sky is not easily controllable for any town or city, which is why unpredictable crop yields, flooding and mudslides caused by excessive precipitation have created complications for many Cache Valley residents this year, including those living in Paradise.

Paradise Town Council members, while unable to control the weather, recently decided to monitor the source of the town’s drinking and stock water, which comes from its spring headwaters in Hyrum’s Dry Canyon. According to Paradise Mayor Leland Howlett, this will give a better idea of what usage patterns look like.

“Currently, we do not have a way of measuring that spring flow,” Howlett said. “So we’ve just had to rely on estimates based on usage in the town, in order to determine what we think our spring flow is. We kind of have a guess of what we got, but want to put in a metering system that’ll tie in to our telemetry.”

Howlett said combining a meter with the telemetry system that will connect to the town’s system control computer should make for better water management, reducing water loss and preventing water shortages.

The recently installed telemetry system had a price tag of just under $18,000, Howlett said, and it was installed by local vendor Intermountain Environmental, a subsidiary of Campbell Scientific.

Every water system has meters that run slow, jam or don’t read accurately, Howlett said. There are also leaks. Wednesday night, the council discussed the latest developments in completing a water meter installation project that will facilitate better projections, over the next few years, of exactly how much water the town uses.

“What that’ll allow us to do is we can take the summation of all of our water bills–all of our water meter readings,” he added. “We can compare that to the water we’re running in versus the water we’re selling and see if we’re leaking (or) losing (water).”

Councilman Kyle Smith said now is the time to move on the meter installation, before winter snowfall prevents canyon access. He said the council set an Oct. 31 project deadline for this reason. Once snowfall begins, the likelihood of losing access increases, he added.

“We just wanted to get it done — get it crossed off our list. It’s a fairly simple project; it’s been on our to-do list for, I think, decades,” Howlett said. “Actually the State Division of Drinking Water, they penalize us ever so slightly on our sanitary survey for not having a measurement device on our spring.”

He said each year the division penalizes the town a couple of points and suggests in its reports that a meter should be installed. The town is a “long way” from having the amount of points that would ultimately force such action, Howlett said, but the council members agreed it was time to act. He said it’s a matter of catching up the infrastructure with current water management technology.

The council submitted a handful of requests for proposals and received a range of bids between $13,000 and $22,000. After an engineering firm designed the apparatus, the council chose Paradise private contractor Bruce Smith, from Robert J. Smith and Sons, to do the job.

“It’s really not that big of a deal, they’re just putting a meter in, and they’re going to put a manhole around it, to protect it,” Bruce Smith said. “They’re just coming up to code on some things — they don’t know if they’re losing water somewhere else, so that’s part of the reason they’re going to meter it.”

Most of the cities and towns in Cache Valley already have systems like this one, he said. After he begins the project, which he plans to do by himself, he said it should take him two or three days’ work to complete. A recent mudslide in the canyon near the spring, due to excess precipitation, should not hinder his work, he added.

“A mudslide diverted the river,” Kyle Smith said. “So it changed the flow of the river.”

Howlett said the slide blocked an access road in the canyon, which was recently cleared, but he’s not sure who cleared it. By spring of 2012, state crews will need to clear out the 15-20 feet of debris built up in the natural channel of the river, to prevent potential flooding from snowmelt, he said.

Bruce Smith said he’s confident he can get the job done in the amount of time he has until deadline, but he said unforeseeable things can sometimes arise.

“When you get going into that kind of stuff, you never know what you’re going to find under ground,” Bruce Smith said. “Coming out of there you might run into some big rocks; I know there’s an old steel pipe that’s still under ground that’s real close to where we’re digging. We might have to cut that out of the way, it just depends on what’s there.”


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