Corning water system update on schedule

CORNING, AR (KAIT) - Last September we told you about Corning getting a 7.8 million dollar grant to completely redo their water system. Six months into the project work  is well underway.

In a straight line... 27 miles of pipe doesn't seem that long, but in a town where the old system wasn't mapped out and most of the pipe work is around 60 to 80 years old replacing the system can be a challenge.

Opening a tap in Corning to get  a glass of water will probably get you mixed results and taste.  Ed Rounds lives on the South side of Corning where the pipes are a little newer.

"In this part of town it's not as bad as in the old part," Rounds said. "You know it's colored a little bit now and then and I'm sure it's going to get a whole lot better water once they get through. We drink it, but usually I drink bottled water. Maybe when they get finished here we can drink from the new well."

Many of the pipes and valves in the city are filled with calcium and rust. Water flow is about a 10th of what it should be. In 2010 the city received a combined 7.68 million dollar grant and loan to replace those old pipes and also do some other water-related projects including refurbishing 3 water tanks. The cities tanks can hold about a million gallons of water at a time. Currently the water tank by the old water department building is nearing completion.

The tank was sandblasted inside and out and repainted. Corning Mayor Deanne Phelan indicated that the first tank project was nearing completion.

Phelan said, "We have one water tank that is almost completely finished and I think they will be doing final inspection and the end of this week on it."

The city has also installed a new generator that will act as backup for the well pumps. With the two new wells having such excellent water the treatment plant has been bypassed except for a chlorinator.

The city put in a new deep well last year. Across the street in an old baseball field drilling equipment sits waiting to finish up the second well.

"Cross the street behind us, they have a new well going down," Phelan said.  "I think they are down about 200 feet on it."

That will give the city two deep wells with great water. I had a glass of the new well water last September, very tasty.

But good water in bad pipes still tastes and looks bad. The biggest part of the project is infrastructure replacement, 27 miles of water pipes.

"There are pipes that are being replaced," Phelan said.  "And fire hydrants. They are probably about a third of the way through that project ."

The crews can lay about 400 feet of PVC pipe a day not counting what they have to drill through and insert the pipe that way under streets and driveways.

There are many crews working in the city,with lots of dirt and trench work going on. Since a lot of the present system is unmapped accidents like cutting a water line in the front yard of Ed Rounds is not unusual.

When all the pipe work is done, every house and building will get a new water meter. Those meters will be able to be read remotely. That means a person will no longer have to go house to house to read meters.

The project will also just about double the amount of fire hydrants in the city. Rounds is one of the lucky homeowners that has a fire plug in his front yard. This project should drop the fire insurance rating.

"We've always had one in the corner of our yard you know. " Mayor Phelan told me that many of the hydrants are corroded up and may not even work. But all the new shiny red hydrants should really help in fire prevention and control.

Phelan said, "we are hopeful that will drop to a 4 our current rating is a six and possibly with everything being new it might go down to a three."

The project is slated to be completed by the end of the year but with weather could stretch into March.

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