Water plays a vital role in the community
For The Madera Tribune
Madera City workers fix a water main leak on Beechwood Avenue.
Did you know that Madera’s most iconic structure, Loy Cook Water Tower, with a height of 134 feet, holds one`1 million gallons of water? Or that the City manages has over 200 miles of water line with an additional 175 miles of sewer line?
These are just a few pieces to the puzzle that make up our City’s water system. Well-maintained infrastructure, qualified personnel, and conscious community members all play a vital role in maintaining the functionality of our complex water system.
Clean and readily available potable water is an absolute necessity for a community to thrive, yet it is often overlooked. We often take our accessibility to water for granted, as most of us can access water readily from anywhere in our homes or businesses. However, the work behind the scenes to ensure that water is delivered to our community is a daunting task and must be carefully monitored and maintained by a well-trained and properly equipped crew.
The City’s Public Works and Engineering Departments are proud to maintain and carry out the necessary improvements required of our water system.
While some communities rely on water that is treated at surface water treatment plants, the City is dependent on ground water that is pumped to the surface. This is done by utilizing one of 19 active water wells, some reaching a depth of up to 800 feet. While drilling a well for agricultural purposes may be common in the Central Valley, City wells come with added features and cost. The City’s most recent well, near the Love’s Travel Center, cost approximately $3 million to construct.
Once the water is pumped to the surface, pressure is maintained using proper sized piping, pumps, and gravity. This process is monitored using a system called supervisor control and data acquisition computer (SCADA). SCADA can provide City operators live and current water pressure levels throughout our community. This is not only critical information, but it can be especially important during major incidents. For example, the team closely monitors water pressure during fires so that firefighters have access to water without interruption or loss of pressure.
While most homes are served by a 1-inch diameter water line, they are connected to larger lines that generally range between 6 and 12 inches. While one may think a 6-inch water line can carry 6 times the amount of water of a 1-inch line, it carries approximately 20 times the amount.
One of the most common performed maintenance tasks is repairing breaks in the City’s vast underground water line system. Most of us know that a broken pipe can cause immense flooding on a roadway, disrupting traffic and on occasion, water to a home. When a break occurs and is detected, the first step is to conduct an underground service alert to verify the safety of the workers and the community prior to excavating. These pipes can be buried up to 20 feet underground; however, most are located four-to-six feet down. To repair these pipes, a repair clamp is applied to halt smaller ones. But with bigger leaks, an entirely new line is tied to the system.
Currently, the City employs a dedicated crew of two specialists responsible for restoring and maintaining all 200 miles of piping, in addition to repairing roughly 1,000 leaks per year. This is on top of other duties, such as fixing and maintaining water meters, conducting underground service alerts, maintaining fire hydrants among other tasks.
When discussing water, a job that cannot go unnoticed is that of our Water Quality Specialists. The task of these specialists is to guarantee our water is within safe drinking standards. They do so by monitoring the chemical balance of every well to ensure water meets quality standards. It is with great pride the City of Madera reports having some of the best quality drinking water in the Central Valley by state regulations.
Clean and safe drinking water is a luxury.
For this reason, we cannot overlook having such an expansive and well-established infrastructure and the impact it has on our day to day lives.
Next time you turn on your faucet to wash your hands, boil some water, or water your plants, remember the long and complicated journey that water has undergone to reach you.
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Article provided by Dan Foss, Madera City Interim Operations Director of Publc Works