Work is continuing on the Willis Avenue water main replacement and Diagonal Road water main extension project.


A section of Willis Avenue between West 8th and 9th Street was closed on Tuesday, July 24. The road was closed so crews could work on replacing the current water main.


“It’s part of that replacing old infrastructure. It’s old and undersized as the town grew,” said Water Superintendent Hank Schmidt.


Currently, he said the water main from West 10th to West 5th Street is a 4-inch line.


“Then it drops down to a 2-inch water main, which is way undersized for providing any fire protection,” Schmidt said. “This is going to create a loop down in that part of town, the western edge of town. And provide a lot better fire protection down there.”


A 10-inch PVC line will be installed from West 10th Street and Willis Avenue to West 5th Street. The line will replace the old cast iron 4-inch and 2-inch lines. Schmidt said the PVC line should last a lot longer than the cast iron one, saving the city future problems and money.


The 10-inch line will be tied into the new line that was installed a year ago at West 10th Street. The line will stay on the south side of Willis Avenue until West 8th Street. The line will then jump across to the north side of the street. It will stay on the north side until just west of the Willis Avenue bridge. Fire hydrants will also be installed along the line.


Schmidt said the water works department built a 10-inch line years ago across Frog Creek and tied it into the 4-inch line that is being replaced this year.


“They realized the need for it back then. That was good because that would be an expensive part to go under the creek,” he said.


Once the new 10-inch line is installed and tested, Schmidt said the next step is tapping the line for each of the homes and businesses along it. Crews will have to go in, tap the line and run a new service line to the stop box for each home and business.


The anticipated completion date for the entire project is mid-October. The construction cost of the water main project is $476,435, plus engineering costs through Veenstra and Kimm out of West Des Moines.


The project, Schmidt said, is entirely self-funded through water rates. He added that the water department has only increased rates incrementally on a cost of living basis to continue making improvements.


“That’s the thing about water systems. You don’t really think about it because they’re buried, but they’re there and they’re incredibly valuable assets to the community,” Schmidt said. “They’re necessary so we have to maintain them. And that’s what we’re doing.”