Utah Rural Water Assists Community with High-Pressure Leaks

DUCHESNE, Utah – Jeff Schnar stood at the base of the mountain where a pair of leaks and 310 psi water pressure had knocked out service for 168 customers of the South Duchesne Culinary Water System in Duchesne, Utah. Assistance from the Rural Water Association of Utah helped protect the public health, repair the leaks and restore service.

“He called and mentioned he had a leak on his system,” explained Jake Wood, a Circuit Rider with RWAU. “The utility had been without water for about 24 hours.”

Circuit Riders are roving water experts that provide training and technical assistance to small utilities. They are prized for their expertise and for their dedication. Even though the federal agencies that help fund the Circuit Riders were furloughed by the government shutdown, Wood was on-site to assist the next day.

“I called Jake that night, and he left immediately so he could be on-site the next day at 7 a.m.,” said Schnar, the Manager and Water System Operations Specialist for the South Duchesne Culinary Water System.

The next day, Schnar and Wood began working to repair the leak. The extreme elevation difference in the distribution system created high pressures that complicated the repairs. Schnar shut off the sources to help alleviate the pressure. They also called a contractor to help excavate the leak, because the mains were buried ten feet deep and the leak had saturated the area.

“In the meantime, I got them the documents to issue a boil water advisory,” Wood said.

He also helped issue the boil water advisory and coordinate alternate water supplies for the community.

“We collected bottled water in case customer were in need,” Wood said. “They were also hauling in water with tankers. It’s required that you test for a chlorine residual and document each load, so I made sure they had a procedure to properly test and document.”

Once the leak was excavated, Wood assisted with the repairs.

“There was water spraying, but Jake isn’t afraid to get wet,” Schnar said. “He was down in the hole just like me or my crew.”

Once the leaks were repaired, crews began restoring water pressure and flushing fire hydrants to clear the mains of any contaminants. They then took five bacteriological samples to ensure the system was safe before lifting the boil water advisory.

“Rural Water is such a benefit,” Schnar said. “Everything they do really helps my system, and Jake really goes above and beyond.”