Anticipating the arrival of large trucks and excavators to dig up your backyard is like looking forward to having a root canal. It’s not something people enjoy, but it’s important work that must get done.
Residents in several Jefferson County neighborhoods — who can expect to see construction work in their yards and neighborhood streets through 2020 as Denver Water replaces a critical water pipeline — may be feeling similar apprehension.
Enter Denver Water’s community relations team, whose goal is to make these types of disruptive projects as painless as possible.
“This project is a challenge because this community has grown up around our infrastructure,” said Katie Knoll, community relations manager at Denver Water. “We are working with more than 150 commercial and residential property owners who are going to be directly impacted by this project.”
Denver Water has an 80-foot easement that runs the entire length of the pipeline corridor from Ralston Reservoir north of Golden to the Moffat Treatment Plant in Lakewood. The easement provides Denver Water with the right to access and work on private property to maintain and upgrade the pipeline.
This past May, Brian Nickel and his family were the first homeowners with a front row seat to watch the work to replace the 1930s pipeline, which runs diagonally across their backyard near West 44th Avenue and McIntyre Street in Jefferson County.
Crews dug a trench that is 13 feet wide and 13 feet deep in the yard to remove a section of the 42-inch pipe and replaced it with a new 84-inch-diameter waterline.
“It wasn’t bad at all,” said Nickel. “The communication from Denver Water kept us in the loop.”
Once the two-week backyard construction project was done, landscape restoration crews came out to replace Nickel’s fence, repair his irrigation system and install new sod.
“We’re happy the work is done,” Nickel said. “The kids have been missing the grass and we’re excited to have that back.”
Residents can expect to see trench work across Long Lake Regional Park in Arvada in November. Construction in the neighborhood south of the Applewood Shopping Center will begin in Fall 2018 and move southeast into Lakewood in 2019. There will be minimal impact on the shopping center, but shoppers can expect to see some detours in the parking lots.
“We understand this work will be an inconvenience to residents,” Knoll said. “Our goal is to make sure we’re letting the community know when work is scheduled and what to expect.”
In addition to the in-person communications with impacted homeowners, Denver Water alerts residents about upcoming impacts by attending community meetings and events, distributing fliers and going door-to-door.
Real-time construction updates will be posted on denverwater.org where residents are encouraged to sign up for a newsletter for project updates.
Signs are also posted on neighborhood streets to alert drivers when traffic will be impacted.
The work is part of the North System Renewal — a larger renovation project to update the infrastructure that delivers 20 percent of Denver Water’s supply to customers in the metro area. The pipeline installation is expected to be completed by 2020, but the new pipeline won’t go into service until the new Northwater Treatment Plant is operational in 2023.