Water line project nears finish line

by | July 12, 2018 5:00 am

Last Updated: July 10, 2018 at 2:58 pm

Autry Morris, the supervisor overseeing the Smoaks water project, says his crew from Barwick Plumbing Company, LLC, has about a month left on the job.
Morris and the crew were along the side of Lowcountry Highway last week, preparing to make the first of three bores under the roadway.
About 85 percent of the pipe is laid, Morris said. When the job is done, the company will have installed between 4-5 miles of pipe in the community.
A major task is the three bores underneath the highway.
On the afternoon of July 3, the work crews had already dug a large, square hole approximately six feet deep on one side off the roadway and installed about 20 feet of what could be best described as a miniature train track inside the hole. A team of two workers was putting the finishing touches on the housing that would power the auger to bore a 16-inch diameter hole about four feet underneath the pavement.
Others in the work crew were just outside the hole, prepping the casing to go in the hole.
The boring has to be deep to make sure that the new line will be well below storm sewer line and other utilities already buried underneath the pavement, Morris explained.
The horizontal bore underneath the pavement is similar to a vertical boring for a water well or oil derrick.
The auger will have a 20-foot-long, 16-inch-diameter piece of casing trailing it. As the auger drills the hole, the casing fills the void.
“Once the auger gets up and running, you can do about 20 feet every hour-and-a-half because we have to weld each casing,” Morris explained.
When the auger reaches the other side of the roadway, the casing will be ready to hold an eight-inch water line that is ready to tie into the new water main.
Smoaks Mayor Rick Linder said the new water distribution project “has worked out good, greater than I expected.”
As the project to install a new and improved water system got started last winter, Linder said “no one knew where all the water lines ran.”
The town’s existing water system has remained in operation while work on the new lines progressed.
“We broke a few lines here and there,” Linder said. But, he added, the material to fix broken water lines was all on site and most water disruptions were cleared up within 30 minutes.
“This was a great crew to work with, well experienced,” the mayor said.
Once the distribution system is completed, the new piping will undergo more work to insure water quality before the new distribution system is put on-line.
Switching from the old system to the new one, Linder estimated, will require shutting down water service for about half a day.
He said plans to install a new and improved water distribution system has been on the town council’s agenda for decades. “They had been saving money since before I was born,” he said.
The existing water lines have been in the ground for about 70 years and were showing their age.
In addition to the age-related maintenance problems, the lines were undersized, creating water pressure problems.
Replacing the existing system with larger water lines will cure the water pressure problems for residents. The increased capacity is also allowing the town to install fire hydrants.
Money set aside by the town’s officials over the years was combined with proceeds from the county’s Capital Projects Sales Tax and a grant from South Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority to cover the cost of the $800,000 project.
“It look a long time to come together, but when it came together, it really bloomed,” Linder said. “A lot of hands came together. It has been a wonderful thing.”
Next on town council to-do list, Linder said, is reworking the town’s two pump houses. Among those repairs will be heating the pump houses.
Then, Linder said, “We won’t have worry about the lines freezing.”

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