Replacing water main in residential portion of the city could help homeowners

Louise Oleson
DLJ editor
Devils Lake, North Dakota is looking at a big project in the heart of the city's residential area.

Devils Lake, North Dakota is looking at a big project in the heart of the city’s residential area as they work towards replacing the water main in what was named “Water Main Improvement District No. 25 - 20.”

The area involved is 8th St. NE between 5th Ave. and 10th Ave., 6th Ave. NE between 10th St. and alley south of 8th St., 8th Ave. NE between 8th St. and alley south of 8th St. as recommended by the City Engineer.

Action approving this project took place at the May 18, 2020, Devils Lake City commission meeting. Letters went out to all residents in this area letting them know about the project and the potential special assessment that each resident is responsible for to pay their portion of the project.

However, that’s only part of the project’s cost and scope. According to Devils Lake City Engineer Mike Grafsgaard, while the streets are open and work is being done on this project, water service lines will be replaced from the water main, that is located in the street, to the water shut off, also known as a curb stop, located in the boulevard. There is the possibility that residents could have their water lines from the curb stop into their homes replaced, as well. Many of the homes in this district might still have old, lead pipes leading from the city’s water main to their home and this could be the perfect opportunity to get those lines replaced, as well, at a lower cost to residents because the curb stop in the boulevard will already be excavated and exposed. Grafsgaard estimated that homeowners wishing to replace those old, lead water lines could potentially find significant savings since the street and boulevard will already be dug up for them.

The city is responsible for paying for a major portion of the water main replacement and installation of a new water service line from the water main into the boulevard. However, replacement of the water service line from the curb stop into the home is the resident’s responsibility.

Science has recently shown that lead pipes can leach that lead into drinking water, therefore more and more people are becoming concerned about their family’s safety and replacing old, lead pipes when they find them in their homes. Although Devils Lake adds chemicals in its water to coat the interior of water lines and reduce the risk of lead leaching into drinking water, it isn’t 100 percent and is more of a treatment than a cure. Replacement of the lead service line is a cure for reducing lead in drinking water.

Grafsgaard is hoping to hear from concerned homeowners in this district that they, too, wish to replace their lead pipes, if they have them. The cost of doing this would be considerable if they had to dig up each waterline from the home to where it connects to the curb stop but if the curb stop is exposed and already dug up, it could mean significant savings for the homeowner. Also, there is the possibility of partnering with the city to have those costs added into the special assessment and spread out over a longer period of time, like 10 or 15 years, rather than having to pay for the work all at once.

Grafsgaard couldn’t guarantee the city would be able to offer this to residents, but was hoping that if it could, it would be an incentive for residents to get the work done while the city’s project is being done and make for a safer drinking water supply system. Residents wanting more information are encouraged to call the City Engineering Department at 662-7600 ext 2.