Fixing big pipes requires big equipment, but where do you park it?

How Denver Water crews decide where to put what they need to keep the water flowing.

February 8, 2019 | By: Jose Salas
Denver Water crews sometimes need to close a road to ensure the public and workers are safe during a construction project. Photo credit: Denver Water.

 

There are two reasons Denver Water crews work on underground pipes in the street near your home or business: Emergencies, such as a broken water line in the street, or scheduled work, such as a pipe replacement project.

But once on-site, one big challenge Denver Water’s crews face is dealing with the speed bumps that lie ahead — metaphorically, not literally — such as traffic and customer impacts, finding buried utility lines and even coping with the weather.

A major concern we hear from Denver Water customers during long-term, scheduled projects revolves around where we place our equipment while the work is underway.

So here’s some insight into our processes, and the decisions that go into where to stage our equipment.

But first, we understand your frustration.

Denver Water employees live and work in the metro area. We see construction on a daily basis and have experienced the growth our city and state have had in recent years.

This is why Denver Water is committed to being a good neighbor. We aim to complete projects as quickly and efficiently as possible while effectively communicating with the surrounding community and minimizing impacts.

“There are variables to every situation, but we try to stay out of the way as much as possible and not be in front of someone’s residence or business,” said Robbie DeHerrera, a water distribution manager at Denver Water.

Big pipes used in replacement projects are stored at the site. Photo credit: Denver Water.

 

Pipe replacement projects, like the $6 million replacement in the Highland neighborhood completed in 2018, are scheduled throughout the year and prioritized based on a variety of factors, including the material of the pipe, the operating pressure of the main water lines in the area, the type of soil, how old the pipe is and other data.

Another factor that could move a replacement project up on the priority list is having several breaks in the water lines in one area during a short period of time.

When projects are scheduled, Denver Water customers in the affected neighborhood will receive a letter in the mail about a month in advance of the project. Denver Water crews will post a second notification on customers’ front doors two days before the project starts. We also publish information about the project on the NextDoor social network for the neighborhood.

Also, customers will always be notified in advance if it’s necessary to temporarily turn off their water during the project.

Once our equipment arrives at the site, the crew supervisor selects a staging location, taking into consideration the safety of the public and the crew, the amount and size of the equipment, weather conditions and impacts to pedestrians, parking areas, traffic, businesses, schools and homes.

“When we get into some neighborhoods, streets can be very narrow, with limited parking,” DeHerrera said. “Knowing we have customers who go to work, who have to drop off kids at school and need to get in and out of their neighborhood, we want to make sure we get the job done and keep everyone safe.

“But,” he said, “due to jurisdictional requirements and our desire to keep traffic moving as efficiently as possible, there are a limited number of areas where equipment can be stored.

“Some of our largest pieces of equipment, like loaders and dump trucks, are used to dig and install a new water line. These large items will most likely be parked along the street after working hours.”

Denver Water crews sometimes need to close a road to ensure the public and workers are safe during a construction project. Photo credit: Denver Water.

 

Depending on their size, the pieces of pipe will be placed next to the curb.

Trailers used by the crew or for storage, as well as portable toilets, will be placed at locations where employees report for work every day and stay in those locations until the project is complete.

As an organization, Denver Water is committed to being a good neighbor by:

  • Only parking vehicles critical to the project in the area of the project.
  • Positioning vehicles so that they do not cause a safety hazard for drivers or pedestrians.
  • Working to maintain clear driveway access for properties in the project area.
  • Using the areas where equipment is stored as effectively as possible.
  • Limiting heavy equipment use and construction noise to work hours.

For more information on current pipe replacement projects in your area and our commitments to our customers, visit www.denverwater.org.

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