One month into the Madison pipeline repairs, the city is on schedule and fluoride levels are staying around an acceptable 2 milligrams per liter. But crews are finding more problems than expected with 30-year-old pipeline.
Gillette’s main water supply was shut down Nov. 1 so repairs could be made to the inside of the 40-mile long transmission pipeline between the city’s Madison formation well field in Crook County and the Gillette. City water users have been relying on in-town wells for the last month, enjoying much softer water than usual, but with elevated levels of fluoride.
Conservation and fluoride levels
Gillette is using about 2.78 million gallons a day right now, said Diane Monahan, water services manager. The city needs to use less than 3 million gallons a day to keep fluoride content at a manageable level. Fluoride levels had dropped to 1.9 milligrams per liter as of Friday, Monahan said.
“We knew last year we were using anywhere from 2.8 (million gallons a day) to 3.2. Now we are running 2.5 to 2.78 (million gallons a day),” she said.
Conservation efforts and a reduction in water usage since the cold weather hit in November have allowed the city to use only water from its Fort Union wells and not its Fox Hills wells, which have higher fluoride content, said Kendall Glover, director of utilities.
“Once it drops below the 3 (million gallons a day) and everything is working, then you go into a finer set of tuning with the Fort Union wells because they vary in fluoride levels as well,” Glover said.
The city has been able to use only the best six or seven Fort Union Wells with lower fluoride content and keep the other six or seven as backups, Glover added.
But while the city has been able to control fluoride levels as it expected, levels have still been above the 2 milligram per liter limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for most of November.
The city is cautioning residents against letting young children drink water with high fluoride content because it could cause some health problems if it is consumed for a long period of time.
The city posts the water usage and average fluoride content for each week on its web site along with information about fluoride from the EPA.
Monahan does not expect any increase in water usage during the holidays, but said the city will remind people in March and April to not start watering their lawns too soon because the pipeline still will be offline.
The actual work on the Madison pipeline is on schedule and the whole pipeline should be back in service by May 1 as planned, said Mike Cole, the city’s utility project manager. City officials were pleased considering the first part of the inspection found more problems than expected.
“To date, we have found five pinhole leaks that were created by corrosion,” Cole said. “Over time, those things would turn into catastrophic leaks and we would have some big issues and very costly repairs.”
All of the pinhole leaks have been found in city limits, he added.
The project hit a major milestone Dec. 1 when crews finished grouting and joint bonding the first section of the pipeline in Crook County. By Jan. 20, Cole hopes the internal repairs to the first section of the pipeline to be complete and the pipeline to be providing Madison water to everyone between the well field and Rozet. The last stretch of pipeline between Rozet and Gillette will be worked on between Jan. 20 and the end of April.
“The public in the Gillette area and in the Campbell County area probably will not see any construction effort from us until Jan. 20,” Cole said.
After Jan. 20, people will start seeing activity along U.S. Highway 14-16 near the Wyodak complex and Cam-plex, Cole said, but there should not be any traffic disruptions in Gillette.
WATER USAGE AND FLUORIDE LEVELS
The city wants water usage to be below 3 million gallons a day, which will help keep fluoride levels at or below the 2.0 milligrams per liter EPA limit.
Nov. 25 – Dec. 1
Water Usage: 2.62 MGD
Fluoride Level: 2 mg/L
Nov. 19- 24
Water Usage: 2.53 MGD
Fluoride Level: 2.1 mg/L
Nov. 12 – 18
Water Usage: 2.80 MGD
Fluoride Level: 2.012 mg/L
Nov. 5 – 11
Water Usage: 2.85 MGD
Fluoride Level: 2.075 mg/L
Oct. 29 – Nov. 4
Water Usage: 2.89 MGD
Fluoride Level: 1.972 mg/L
Find more information on water usage and fluoride levels on the city’s web site at http://www.ci.gillette.wy.us/