By Conrad Dudderar
Yukon city leaders have recommended using federal stimulus funds to pay an estimated $720,000 needed to lower a water well line.
Housing and industrial development around Czech Hall Road, S.W. 29th and S.W. 15th will impact the City of Yukon’s existing underground water pipeline in Oklahoma City limits.
Yukon city engineer Joe Davis, of TEIM Design, explained the issue during the Yukon City Council’s March 15th work session.
“This whole corridor has changed dramatically in the past five years,” Davis said. “This corridor had been really ‘sleepy’ for the past 25 years, and now it’s starting to grow exponentially.”
Because Oklahoma City is widening several arterial streets, the City of Yukon must expend funds to move portions of a 24-inch transmission line that carries water to Yukon from its well field near World Rogers World Airport.
“Oklahoma City is starting to experience growth, especially along 29th Street and a little bit on Czech Hall Road,” Davis explained. “As Oklahoma City is identifying improvements to this area, they’re changing from a two-lane ‘rural’ section to a four-lane section with curb and gutter, and storm sewer.
“When they make these improvements, we have conflicts with our existing water line with some of the storm sewer they’re proposing. That necessitates us doing some slight movements to that pipeline.”
It was cost an estimated $720,000 to lower the water line in 18 places.
“This was not budgeted,” Yukon City Manager Tammy Kretchmar told council members. “We did not know about this last year at the time we were preparing the budget.”
Kretchmar recommended the City of Yukon use part of its $4.9 million allocation from the American Rescue Plan Act, a federal stimulus program that addresses the economic impact of COVID-19.
“We had planned to use that to replace water and sewer lines, but since this was unplanned, that’s the only money that we could use,” she said.
The proposed water line lowering will qualify for ARPA funds.
Starting in the 1970s, the City of Yukon built 15 water wells in the Garber Wellington Aquifer on airport trust property in south Oklahoma City.
These wells are that far from Yukon because “the quality of the water in the Garber Wellington gets worse the farther west you go” due to saltwater intrusion and high arsenic levels, Davis explained.
The 24-inch transmission line, constructed on Oklahoma City’s statutory right-of-way along S.W. 29th and Czech Hall Road, brings water from the well field to Yukon city limits.
Since Yukon must purchase Oklahoma City water to meet peak demands, a booster station just west of well No. 1 was constructed in 1999 to “blend” Yukon and Oklahoma City water. This reduced arsenic levels to meet Department of Environmental standards.
Most of Yukon’s water well field is east of airport property, except for wells 1 and 2 on S.W. 29th.
The City of Yukon’s engineering firm is focused on three projects that would lower the water well line to accommodate new storm sewer pipe installed as part of these Oklahoma City street improvements:
- S.W. 15th and Czech Hall Road intersection (two lowerings)
- S.W. 29th from MacArthur and Rockwell (15 lowerings)
- S.W. 29th west of Morgan Road (one lowering)
Since a typical water line lowering costs $40,000, the price tag for all three proposed projects is $720,000.
“The reason for us to move the waterline is because they’re trying to widen the street,” Davis told city council members.
The underground storm sewer pipe is “gravity flow” and conflicts in some areas with Yukon’s existing water line, which can be relocated since it’s “pressurized flow.”
Because of potential “conflicts” between Yukon’s water line and Oklahoma City’s proposed storm sewer, the water line will be lowered in certain areas.
“Part of the agreement with the Oklahoma City and the City of Yukon is that we would bear the cost of doing utility relocations in the right-of-way,” Davis said. “Pretty much like we have with franchise agreements with utilities that are located within our right-of-way. If there’s a relocation cost, it’s borne by the utility company.”
Although Davis described these movements as slight, the engineer told city council members they are still expensive.
“We recognize that we’ll continually have improvements going through this corridor,” he said. “In some instances, we’re able to have the storm sewer redesigned so it doesn’t impact (Yukon’s) water line.
“We do everything we can to reduce the cost to Yukon when we’re reviewing the plans that Oklahoma City gives us.”
Yukon city engineers are being proactive to identify which projects must be done.
“The City of Yukon will bear the cost because we’re in Oklahoma City right-of-way,” Davis said.
These is no other option.
“Part of our agreement with Oklahoma City to be placed in their statutory right-of-way was, when they make a demand, we need to go ahead and take care of our water line,” the engineer advised Yukon city officials. “That’s part of our responsibility for being in their statutory right-of-way.”