$1.3M on tap to upgrade Nevada City water pipes | TheUnion.com

$1.3M on tap to upgrade Nevada City water pipes

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

Many of the water pipes running through Nevada City’s soil to its homes and businesses are poised for a much-needed upgrade.

At Wednesday’s Nevada City Council meeting, city administrators reviewed a nearly $3.2 million grant for water system improvements, of which the city will receive more than $1.3 million and the rest would go to Washington and Placer County.

“It should substantially improve our water system,” said Bill Falconi, the city engineer.

The majority of the pipes that run through the heart of the city in its historic downtown are 163 years old, dating back to the mining era that sprouted Nevada City.

Beyond their antiquity, the pipes’ web-like interconnectedness also pose potential problems.

Rather than a direct line that pumps water to one of Nevada City’s main water storage tanks, water coming from the water treatment plant off Gracie Road has to trickle through every business and home in downtown Nevada City before it drips into the storage tank near the Rood Center.

Also, the city’s water pressure is based on the gravity of those tanks being further uphill.

“We ultimately need a higher tank, probably up on Sugar Loaf (Mountain),” Falconi said, noting that funds for that project would not come from the grant.

The $1.3 million dollars will go to eight core projects, Falconi noted.

“We’re very fortunate we are getting these funds,” said Councilwoman Sally Harris. “If it weren’t for this, it would be coming out of our own enterprise funds.”

The first project is estimated to cost $53,635 to hook onto a Nevada Irrigation District water line near Gracie Road, which serves as a backup water sources during emergencies.

During hot summer stretches devoid of water, the city’s water tanks have trouble keeping up with demand.

In the event of a fire, that’s a problem, said Verne Taylor, the public works director, in a January interview with The Union.

In that event, the city can supplant its water with NID water, although City Manager David Brennan noted in that same January interview that the city should not rely on NID as a crutch but should instead be able to meet its own demands.

The two largest projects are $390,747 for South Pine Street distribution improvement and $342,502 to purchase equipment to detect leaks in the city’s antiquated pipes.

Another hefty project is to install altitude valves at the city’s three storage tanks.

The rest of the $3.2 million grant is intended to go to Washington and Placer County’s water agencies for their own upgrades, with the city acting as funding distributor.

With funds in the pipeline, Falconi predicted shovels could hitting the dirt by fall, with all eight projects completed by the end of 2015.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

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