Friday, October 25, 2013

Orofino Water Plant progress right on schedule

Water Supervisor Mike Martin explains to young guests Paul and Elisa Morris that water in the new plant will be cleaned and recycled, Paul aged 8.5, especially seemed to like the idea that it could be recycled. By the time the children finished asking all those questions that Martin so patiently and simply answered I was certain I had learned quite a bit more that day, than if I had gone alone. My thanks to supervisor Martin for all his time and information to share, and to Paul, Elisa, JD and Jeremiah for accompanying me to the water plant.

Always looking for a teachable moment, I invited new friends to accompany me to the water plant. What child isn’t fascinated by water? Although he would like to explore the site further, Tori Howard holds JD Morris in check while heavy equipment passes nearby. JD is one of three sons belonging to Josh and KC Morris. 

The river parted to expose the new water intake pipes will be visible until the end of this month. Clear weather has allowed the crews a little more time to work before the rains come and the river rises. The curious looking red tarp in the river is scheduled to be removed beginning Oct. 29.
Masons have begun work on the new water plant facility, which will house the offices, computers and the electrical system for the plant. This picture was taken three weeks ago, and has amazingly been transformed already. Much has been added since I last visited and the building will continue to take shape in weeks to come.
By Elizabeth Morgan

It’s been since June 2010, since my dear friend and predecessor, Alannah Allbrett, toured the water plant on Main St. to get a first hand look at where the city’s drinking water comes from and ultimately, why the city needed a new facility to replace it.

They say “a picture’s worth a thousand words,” and quite frankly, the photos were pretty scary. I still remember them. I’m not sure what concerned me most - the rust and corrosion of the pipes, or the fact that plant workers were risking their lives either by electrocution (remember the little frogs?) or by daily exposure to any one of a myriad of molds growing from every nook and cranny, or the realization that this was where my drinking water came from.

Let’s just say that I wasn’t exactly anxious to revisit those scenes, except for that big red tarp parting the mighty Clearwater River.

I met with Water Supervisor Mike Martin for a tour earlier this month beginning with the placement of the intake pipes in the river bed. The tarp blockade or coral, was to come down by Oct. 15, but JC Constructors received an extension date of a couple weeks, and now the days scheduled to remove the tarps are Oct. 29-31. Just in case you were wondering…

I learned to swim and grew up along that river. It has been a magnet each summer no matter where I’ve lived to bring me home for swimming, floating and family picnics. The whole idea of the ground beneath the river exposed and dry was intriguing to say the least. I had to admit that I wouldn’t mind getting a little closer look at all the activity taking place in the past few months!

The Clearwater Tribune has had a few recent inquiries as to the company selected from more than a dozen bidders to attempt the amazing feat of making water pure enough to drink.

As money was an issue in the construction of a new water plant, JC Constructors of Meridian was selected for the bid of 5.7 million dollars, while the average bid ranged closer to 6.3 million with some of the bids extending up to 6.9 M.

Construction of a water plant in town, along the river, with all the EPA restrictions was no easy task. Not just anyone could take on such a project, requiring both the knowledge and experience. But work has definitely progressed, and how quickly some things change!

The company has done such an impressive performance thus far, that the site in Orofino will be used in the company’s promotional video for prospective clients. Jesus Morales is the on-site contractor.

The pipes installed in the riverbed will lead to the raw water pump station being constructed on the bank of the river showing the skeleton of rebar to house the pumps. Parris Rebar specialists were sub contracted to install the framework, while Walker and Fox Masonry was sub contracted to lay the cement walls of the membrane and pump station.

The onsite inspector is Dick Bentley of CH2M Hill. A third party inspector, Allwest, oversees all of the plant’s operations, even collects samples from every load of bricks delivered to be assured that every aspect of the job is up to code and that all the systems work together.

The new facility to replace the old water plant (the building is literally hugged by Main St,) is taking shape quickly, and will soon be ready for local electrical contractor Kary Anderson of Weippe, subcontracted by Mountain States Electrical contractors.

Completion is still a ways off, but keep your eyes open, as the site changes almost every day, and if you’re like me you’ll be out there waiting to watch a river turned loose. Be careful not to get too close - remember, safety first!

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