America Falls, Idaho, will use about $1.4 million in American Recovery & Reinvestment Act funds to replace more than five miles of 6-in. steel water pipeline from the artesian wells at Sunbeam Springs northeast of the city limits.
Beginning in mid-April, Sawtooth Construction Co. of Ketchum will be laying 8-in. plastic water lines from the collection box at the springs to American Falls via a county easement along Sunbeam Road. Sawtooth Construction will employ eight people on the three-month contract.
The water from the Sunbeam aquifer is funneled into a collection tank, and then gravity-fed through a transmission line into town. Part of the water goes into a million-gal. reservoir tank, and the rest is gravity fed to the northeast side of town.
The Pocatello office of engineering firm Keller & Associates designed and surveyed the new route, which previously ran pipes through fields, private land and conservation reserves.
Sunbeam Springs has been supplying water to the city of 4,000 for approximately 80 years. During the 1930s, the city tapped into the aquifer to control and capture the pure spring water. Pete Cortez, water and wastewater superintendent for American Falls, says the current system is insufficient because of water escaping from leaking pipes. Also, the current 6-in. lines are not large enough to achieve peak recovery. In some areas, exposed pipes pose a potential water contamination and public health hazard.
The 8-inch lines will not only be more efficient but also will bring in enough water to meet the city’s demands between November and March, eliminating the need to run electric pumps at the deep-water wells, Cortez says.
The major difference between warm weather and winter usage is increased irrigation and other domestic uses. “In the summer, we are using five of six additional deep-water wells that, along with Sunbeam, have the capability of supplying a total of approximately 6,675 gal. per minute, but we don’t use that much,” Cortez says. “We average about 3,200 gal. a minute.
“Once we get the pipes replaced, we are hoping to get from 450 to 500 gal per minute from just the Sunbeam Springs, and that would satisfy the winter demands for the city,” he says. “By not running the deep-water wells during cold weather, we’ll save between $600 and $700 a month in electric costs,” Cortez says.