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The city will be targeting improvements in the area of Tualatin, Little and North Seventh streets.

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF ST. HELENS - Waterline improvements are planned for S. 22nd Street and Tualatin Street. If waterlines in a city are in need of repair, homeowners can experience problems such as leaks, breaks and pressure fluctuations. Sometimes a homeowner may notice water showing up on the street. Service interruptions can occur.

But the city of St. Helens will soon be taking action to improve waterlines in certain neighborhoods.

The city is announcing that it has gone out to bid for a waterline improvement project in the area of Tualatin, Little and North Seventh streets.

The improvement project will install over 1,520 feet of new ductile iron water main, along with new valves and fire hydrants. The project will also reconnect or extend approximately 28 water service lines in the area.

The waterlines will be replaced with a larger line, so homeowners can get better water pressure.

Sharon Darroux, St. Helens engineering project manager, said, "The waterlines that we are replacing are just in really bad shape. They're really old, and these are ones that our public works operations department always have to go out and fix and patch."

Buck Tupper, field supervisor for St. Helens Public Works, said his department has heard from owners with water problems.

"Most of the complaints that we receive are just due naturally to leaks appearing on their property or in the street," Tupper said. "It's very rare when we get complaints on the quality of our water."

Tupper said leaks can cause property damage if they get into crawl spaces or garages.

"It depends on the geographical area you're in," Tupper said. "Some of the lines, like North Seventh in particular — that line has been bad for quite a while — we've done multiple repairs. It's just costing us more money to repair it than it is to replace the darned thing."

Tupper estimates some of St. Helens' waterlines date back to the 1940s.

Darroux's department keeps a list of waterlines that need replacement, and the city tries to do a waterline improvement project at least once every year. If pipes are in really bad shape, they will be replaced altogether.

Since 2011, Darroux said St. Helens has replaced over 6,000 feet of waterlines.

Funding for the upcoming waterline improvement project, expected to be approximately $400,000 to $450,000, comes from the city water budget.

Because the price is expected to be high, the city will divide the project into two phases. One project will be done this fiscal year, the other won't start until after July 1, which would be the next fiscal year.

Darroux could not estimate a start time for the project, since details need to be worked out with the awarded contractor.

A contractor will be selected for the project after Oct. 21.

"Everybody that lives in the area, we always notify them," Darroux said. "They get letters. They'll know what's coming."

Water shutoffs could occur in the area, but Darroux said these are usually for only a few hours.

Once the work is done, some homes may see additional water flow. Improvements should also increase flow to fire hydrants.

Furthermore, operation and maintenance costs will be reduced once the waterlines are repaired, St. Helens officials say.

"Right now, waterlines in these areas are 2-inch and 1½-inch lines, or older 4-inch lines that have been experiencing a large number of breaks," Darroux said. "We're replacing most of them with 6-inch pipes. It's going to be a real improvement. By replacing these waterlines, the amount of shutdowns is reduced, providing for a more reliable water system."

You can see current open bids on the St. Helens Engineering Department's website. You may also contact Darroux at 503-366-8243.


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