Holiday water shutoff irks some Ogden Canyon residents
Waterline project • Tight schedule drives inconvenient 30-hour disruption in service.
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Residents who live along a stretch of State Route 39 through Ogden Canyon recently received a surprise — a hand-delivered notice informing them of a 30-hour water shutoff that begins at 5 p.m. on Memorial Day.

"We've tolerated an amazing amount of nonsense. We're tired of it," homeowner Joel Hewson said of the traffic delays and other disruptions related to the Ogden Canyon Water Project that began in November and should finish within a few weeks.

The notice informed residents that the shutoff will allow construction crews to drain the 24-inch main line and replace part of it.

"Please make any necessary arrangements, such as turning off booster pumps or stockpiling water prior to 5 p.m. on Monday," it said. "We apologize in advance for the inconvenience that this water shutoff may cause."

Richard Kurka loves the convenience of exiting his backdoor to fish on the Ogden River. He sides with Hewson about the shutoff's unfortunate timing.

"If you want to have a barbecue outside, you can't do dishes or clean up," Kurka said.

Kenton Moffett, Ogden City's water utility manager, said that the $9 million project replacing four miles of underground pipe has proved challenging.

Early glitches, including harsh winter weather and the discovery that large boulders surrounded some of the old waterline, caused delays and a change in construction methods. However, both the waterline and road resurfacing should conclude by August, Moffett said.

Over the decades, several leaks sprung in the century-old steel line that carries treated Pineview Reservoir water to Ogden. Those cracks caused the loss of about 3 million gallons of water per day, said Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell.

Since November, the old pipe has been replaced in phases, with the fourth and final phase finishing by mid-June — just in time for peak summer water consumption to kick in.

In addition to meeting most of Ogden's water needs, the waterline also services about 150 connections in Ogden Canyon, including four businesses, said Ogden City Engineer Justin Anderson.

The Alaskan Inn, Oaks eatery and Gray Cliff Lodge restaurant receive temporary water hookups during extended shutoffs, Anderson said, and the ATK Conference Center only operates certain times of the year.

Monday's shutoff will affect about 75 residential connections, and Anderson said he understands their frustration.

"This is the fourth shutdown they've experienced."

Brigham City-based Whitaker Construction is on the job every day except Sunday, Anderson added, working mostly at night because the narrow SR 39 has to shut down to all through traffic. Now, with summer heat looming, wiggle room in the schedule has all but evaporated.

"Instead of having the shutoff during the [Memorial Day] weekend, we delayed until Monday evening, even though we'll lose a couple of days," Anderson said.

"We're trying to balance the difficulty of getting the project done with accommodating everyone affected by it."

cmckitrick@sltrib.com

Twitter: @catmck