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DPU struggles with major flood damage

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County > Los Alamos Canyon hit hard again

By Arin McKenna

Los Alamos County’s Department of Public Utilities infrastructure took the hardest hit during recent flooding. Initial estimates place the damage at nearly $6 million for the department, with an additional $700,000 in repairs for  Public Works.
The most urgent need is for replacement of the Guaje Canyon well field waterline and the road leading to it.
The initial assessment called for $2,250,000 for repairing damage to the road and replacing 1,500 feet of waterline (estimated at $200,000).
Damage was reassessed after Public Works and a subcontractor completed emergency road work last week, providing DPU crews access to the well fields. After meeting with a contractor on Thursday, DPU adjusted their estimate for replacing the waterline upward to $700,000.
Crews discovered that 3,000 feet of pipeline, originally buried under four feet of cover and a roadbed, had been exposed by record floodwaters.
“We’ve got areas where the stream has totally moved on the alignment and just exposed it. And it’s compounded by, these are cast iron pipes with lead joints. So it’s not like rubber, it’s a rigid connection,” said James Alarid, deputy utilities manager for engineering. “Once it moves, it’s lost its water tightness. This was dancing in the water.


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