Palisade looking to replace aging, too-small water lines

Three years after completing construction on a new $6 million water treatment plant, Palisade is turning its attention to gradually replacing the pipes that carry that water through town.

Town Public Works Director Frank Watt estimates roughly half of the 20 miles worth of old, small water lines within the town’s service area need to be replaced within the next 10 years.

“We know that we have got substandard water lines or aging water lines in places,” Town Administrator Tim Sarmo said.

Watt said many of the lines in town are 50 to 60 years old, too small to accommodate modern fire hydrants and made out of cast iron, which can rust and deteriorate. He said the new lines will be made of plastic, which is more durable, and the 2-inch lines will be replaced with 6-inch lines.

Watt said the town will add more valves to the lines so that if there is a break, he can shut off water in smaller areas so that fewer residents would be affected.

The town also will rely more heavily on its own funds for line replacements than in the past, and it will do the work in-house rather than contract it out.

A couple of years ago, the town was able to lean on a hefty state energy-impact grant to replace a two-mile stretch of water line. But state budget cuts have dried up the pool of grant money available to local communities.

For the first time, Watt set aside money in this year’s budget specifically for line replacements. He plans to spend the $150,000 to replace a line as part of the reconstruction of Kluge Avenue as well as a yet-to-be-determined line.

“If we find funding sources that can accelerate the most critical needs, we’ll certainly do that. But otherwise we’re going about figuring out what our priorities are and replacing those sections that we can afford,” he said.

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