Dirty job Workers manage to bury water line, despite massive mud, muck By David Lias
Plain Talk Talk about your dirty jobs. There is mud everywhere surrounding an old bridge that crosses the Vermillion River in Prairie Center Township northeast of Vermillion. There will be a big payoff, however, from the current efforts of construction workers who are dealing with wet, sloppy conditions. When their work at the bridge is finished, a water line from the site of the Lewis and Clark Regional Water Systemâ�?�?s water plant, currently under construction north of Vermillion near Highway 19 in Clay County, will be nestled neatly under the Vermillion River. In contrast to the current muck surrounding the bridge, the system will pump water from a well field near the Missouri River to a new treatment plant currently under construction north of Vermillion. The Lewis and Clark Regional Water System will then deliver crystal clear, treated drinking water from the water plant to over 300,000 people in South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota. Lewis & Clark's member systems will use this new source of water to either replace or supplement existing sources of supply. Construction workers from Don Kelly Construction, Inc., an Arizona-based firm, appeared much like young boys who are irresistibly attracted to a mixture of water and dirt. They seemed to take the less than ideal working conditions in stride. The sloppy environment they are in isnâ�?�?t a result of the construction work. People who are curious to view the work need to heed this warning: the bridge over the construction site at the Vermillion River is located in the middle of an unimproved road. In other words, when the weather is dry, the dirt road is cut with deep ruts. When conditions are like they are presently â�?�? a combination of warmer temperatures that have melted snow and rainfall in recent days â�?�? the road on both sides of the old wooden bridge becomes a quagmire. To bury a water line under a river, you first have to divert the flow of its water away from its channel. Workers did that by creating a small dam. â�?�?The workers are crossing the Vermillion River, and they are doing this by essentially damming up the river and letting the water flow through two culverts,â�? said Troy Larson, Lewis and Clark Regional Water Systemâ�?�?s executive director. â�?�?On the other side of the dam where they (the workers) are trenching, they are trenching under those culverts.â�? Using large backhoes and other construction equipment, the crew have laid a 54-inch diameter pipe under the river. â�?�?They will bury that, and eventually they will knock down the dam, take out the culverts, and let the water continue to flow like it has been,â�? Larson said. Workers have been busy at this project since Jan. 29. They ran into problems the very next day, Larson said, as their trench continued to fill with water. â�?�?They had to wait, pump that out, and try it again,â�? he said. The problems with the trench didnâ�?�?t bring their work to a halt. The crew simply went ahead and kept laying pipe on the other side of the river. Workers had originally planned to cross the Vermillion River last fall. But heavy rainfall at the time forced them to delay that work until now. â�?�?Because of the high water, those two culverts werenâ�?�?t able to handle the high flow of the river, and so they jumped ahead (last fall) and skipped the river for a couple of months,â�? Larson said. â�?�?They kept working north, and now that the river level is low enough, they came back to finish that piece. The workers have already made good progress burying lines to the east and to the north of the (Vermillion) river.â�? Water lines have already been buried to the area of Greenfield Road. The section under the Vermillion River, once complete, will connect the lengths of water line that have been buried on both sides of the river. The Vermillion River will be restored to its original state once the work there is complete. â�?�?The pipeline will be below the river bottom and this contractor will do a very good job of putting the river back to the way it was in terms of its channel,â�? Larson said. According to a study completed in 2006, the estimated total economic impact to the region from construction of this water project will total $374 million, which includes the creation of 266 construction jobs on average per year or 3,730 jobs over the lifetime of the project.�? Approximately 72 percent of the economic impact will be realized in South Dakota, with 17 percent in Iowa and 11 percent in Minnesota. The Sioux Falls expansion will add an additional $41.8 million dollars to the total construction cost of the project, adding 29 jobs per year to the total employment of the project.�? The Sioux Falls expansion does not represent any new job creation or economic impact because it will not receive any federal funding and will instead be funded by dollars that were already in the state of South Dakota.