Water project is going under the river

By John L. Braese

The Enterprise

When your water supply is on one side of the river and your customers are on the opposite side, the answer to the problem is to bore under the river.

That is what is occurring this week as the first phase of Vale’s new water system takes place.

A specialized machine will drill down and make a turn to make way for a 14-inch pipe to be installed under the Malheur River near the rodeo grounds. The pipe will connect the water supply on the hill to the main water main located at the rodeo grounds.

The new pipe is the first phase an $8.1 million project to reduce arsenic in Vale’s water system and add a pressure station.

“Right now, we have an 8-inch pipe that needs to be updated,” said Vale City Manager Lynn Findley. “We are increasing the size of the pipe for both pressure and fire flow. With one fire hydrant turned on currently, there is not enough pressure to serve parts of Vale.”

The project was halted briefly due to an archeological issue.

A survey turned up shards of glass along the pipeline route, triggering a review to make sure a cultural site wasn’t being disturbed. It wasn’t.

“We believe it was someone’s old bottle thrown out,” Findley said. “It was not antique.”

Once drilled, 543 feet of PVC weld-able pipe will run 20 feet beneath the bed of the Malheur River. The pipe is the first phase of updating the city’s water system and bringing it into compliance with new federal regulations regarding arsenic.

Bids for building an arsenic treatment plant are scheduled to be opened this month.

Have a news tip? Email new@malheurenterprise or call John L. Braese at 541-473-3377.