Unforeseen circumstances forced Challis city officials and workers to schedule multiple construction projects this summer, which Challis Mayor Mike Barrett said is a rarity.
“We have a lot of things going on this summer,” Barrett said. “You try to space out your work as best you can, but a lot of things hit us here.”
The biggest project for the summer is getting the Challis clear well up and running, the mayor said. City maintenance workers have slowly been ramping up the number of gallons they put through the well each minute, reaching 600 last Monday.
“The clear well likes to run full bore,” Barrett said. The clear well, which was Challis’s original water source until three subterranean wells were drilled, is being turned on because of damage to west wells 2 and 3.
The increase in GPMs expanded the range of the clear well, which began supplying water to properties between 10th Street and U.S. Highway 93 on Monday. Barrett said city workers started with First through Ninth streets to slowly test the system and see what it could take.
Barrett is thankful the weather is starting to warm because it means more water will get pumped through the clear well. When the clear well runs at full power, Barrett said the chlorine city workers use to sanitize the water won’t build up.
Last week’s rain caused a bit of a chemical balancing issue, Barrett said, because people weren’t using well water to feed their lawns and chlorine was building up in the clear well. It has since been resolved, but Barrett remains wary.
“I appreciate mother nature’s help, but I got to run some water through the system,” Barrett said.
Barrett has been working with a hydrologist on west wells 2 and 3, and he said it appears well 3 might not be salvageable. It’s possible the damage to that well reaches its full length, which means it would be more cost effective to abandon it and focus all resources on fixing west well 2.
Along with the wells, city streets will get a touch up starting this week, according to Barrett. A harsh winter left streets pockmarked and rough, to the point where Barrett said in March the city was looking at renting a DuraPatcher. That cleans, coats, fills and compresses potholes. Barrett hoped to rent it in April, but because it was more important to focus on making sure the city had drinking water, road reconstruction was postponed. Once the DuraPatcher arrives and city workers have been trained to use it, Barrett said they will be able to efficiently fix streets.
In July, the work continues with the Seventh Street bridge. Work to replace the bridge will begin sometime after Independence Day, the mayor said. Originally planning to have the bridge replaced within a year of the Third Street bridge replacement, the project was held up because of federal mandates, Barrett said in January.
Idaho Department of Water Resources representatives wanted the city’s 100-year flood plan to be more stringent and workers from the National Marine Fisheries Service asked the bridge be dug deep enough for fish to swim easily through it. Despite setbacks, Barrett said the bridge will be finished by mid-July.
Barrett said the middle of July is also when work will begin on the parking lot and restroom at city park. The project, funded by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, will result in a paved parking lot and a paved pathway to larger, handicap-accessible restrooms.
The improved restrooms were a key factor in receiving the state grant, Barrett said. Having more public restrooms in a town connected to an extensive outdoor trail system benefits everyone who uses the trails, Barrett said.