Lockwood sewer ready for new connections

Originally published in the weekly Yellowstone County News print edition.

Some residents in Lockwood will be able to begin connecting to the Lockwood sewer.

As part of the Lockwood Phase Two Sewer Project, a two-block area and the lines connecting it to mains will be completed by the end of this week, and Lockwood Water and Sewer District manager Mike Ariztia recommended the district board allow residents to begin installing connections.

During a meeting last Wednesday, the LWSD Board approved the idea.

Jill Cook, who is overseeing the sewer project on behalf of Morrison Maierle, said that construction workers report residents are always asking them how soon they can connect. LWSD assistant manager Tony Reed added that they come into the district office almost daily to ask the same question.

COP Construction is on schedule and expects to complete the second phase of the Lockwood sewer by the end of August, said Ariztia. He reported that areas along Peter Street, Greenwood, Juniper, Hickory, Hemlock and Nightingale are essentially complete and crews will be moving this week to Sunrise and Eagle Rock. Work is beginning on Becraft, said Ariztia, where the line is going in 20-feet deep.

Ariztia asked for and received approval from the board to update and loop water lines for portions of Piccolo and Gardner Streets before street surface improvements are made by the county. The county is sharing the cost of repaving the streets as the sewer line is put into place, and the county is committed to redoing entire streets so that there are no patchwork repairs. In fact, said Cook, the county had been postponing doing anything on Piccolo in anticipation of the sewer project eventually happening.

To add the two projects will add considerably to the proposed cost of waterline replacement, said Ariztia, but it seems like a good thing to do now since it will eventually have to be done and to do it later would mean tearing up the improved streets.

The proposed additional line includes 8-inch waterline on Piccolo Lane from the 60-foot canal to Old Hardin Road as well as replacing the 4-inch water line in Gardner, installing new waterline in Sherwood and connecting to the existing 4-inch waterline in Sterling. Total lineal footage is approximately 1,800 lineal feet.

The improvements would add looping and reliability to the system. Looping helps provide redundant feeds in the case of shutdowns, minimizes stagnant water and needed flushing and can improve pressure issues.

Lockwood Water is replacing water line in conjunction with the building of the sewer, so as to take advantage of the streets being open and to minimize future disruption and cost of street repairs. However, portions of Gardner and Piccolo streets are not being disturbed by the project but will be part of the county’s reconstruction project, so it seems prudent to move forward the water line replacement projects “while we have equipment and resources in place,” said Ariztia.

The cost will add $400,000 to the waterline replacement budget that was originally proposed for the sewer project, bringing it to a total of $1.5 million. Funding would be drawn from district reserves. The project will be added as a change order to the sewer project, and it may add to the completion time, said Ariztia.

Cook emphasized that the surface of Piccolo is being completely removed and replaced with 13 inches of road base and 3 inches of pavement, from edge to edge. Once the whole sewer project is completed, Piccolo and Gardner will have rebuilt streets, new gas lines, new water lines and a new sewer line.

In other business, the board approved a recommendation to provide longevity pay for district employees of $100 a year after the first three years, with a $2,500 cap. The recommendation followed an earlier assessment regarding to wages paid by the district.

The board also renewed the employees’ health insurance policy with Blue Cross Blue Shield with a 12.33 percent increase in rates.

Lockwood residents Jan and Bob Carlson asked the board why they are placing sewer line in front of the residences on their street rather than in the alley as they are doing in other areas. Cook explained that their alley is not wide enough and already has utilities in it that would make installing the sewer line impossible. The Carlsons pointed out that having the line in front of homes adds to the cost of installation for the individual homeowners. Cook said she would get more information to answer more specifically some of the questions that the Carlsons had, and she provided them with information about possible grants that could help cover the cost of installation.

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