Jenkins: Solution to a Steubenville water problem won’t be cheap

STEUBENVILLE — Water Superintendent Jim Jenkins warned City Council this week fixing the line problem that’s causing dirty water to periodically pour out of faucets on Portland Avenue isn’t going to be cheap — and even then there’s no guarantee what they do will take care of the problem.

Jenkins figures the answer may be to “loop” the line from the dead-end side of Portland to Johnson Road out to Sunset Boulevard.

“It all depends on how you do it,” Jenkins told council. “(It could cost) anywhere between $50,000 and $150,000 to $200,000. I would say it would probably be on the cheaper side, basically all we’d be doing is connecting to a dead-end pipe, running it out to a pipe that’s already there and has a valve on it.”

When a line is a dead-end, it’s only fed from one way and if there is low usage, it leads to water quality issues such as dirty water. Loops allow water to continuously flow from multiple directions.

Jenkins was asked to address council as a follow-up to Portland Avenue resident Marlane Figurski’s plea for help at council’s Aug. 2 meeting. He’d been on vacation that week.

Firguski, who’d shown council samples of the brown water coming out of her tap, had said dirty water was an issue she’d been dealing with “for many, many years with no resolution.”

“It’s been horrible,” she said. “I’m not blaming Jim, he’s trying, really trying, to fix the situation.”

Jenkins said he’s already ruled out the Figurski’s personal service line as the culprit as well as the main line out front.

“Over the years we’ve faced many line breaks, especially in their block, so we excavated all those old line breaks and made sure the repairs are still in good condition, which they were,” he said. “We also dug in front of their house. We actually (have) many many hours invested in this issue.”

Jenkins said they also installed a flusher: a device that’s hooked to the main line and has an automatic timer that turns on periodically to allow water flush out the line to clear the water.

“Low flow issues and the dead end, it’s a big issue,” Jenkins said. “But I think the bigger issue is out in the system so we took the investigation further out, we did multiple leak detections in the Rosemont-Garfield area. We installed a flusher in the Garfield area for the same reason. Basically, we’re trying to look at the system as a whole, why there’s dirty water in one area. I truly believe it’s a flow issue, that at some point in time valves were shut and never opened, covered in asphalt or something like that so they’re not open and not properly feeding that area. During our investigation we found two valves closed and not being properly fed…we’ve since opened those, but we still have four more valves to check.”

Jenkins said there are still a few more valves to check. Once they’re sure they have proper flow, “then we can take a look at looping the water lines in.”

“We can extend the dead-end on Portland Avenue down to Johnson Road to Sunset, thus creating a loop for water to move freely instead of a dead-end. but there’s no guarantee it would fix the issue,” Johnson said. “However, if everything’s open and completed, it should help tremendously and we could probably do away with the flusher.”

Jenkins said the Figurski’s latest problem stems from a flusher malfunction. It took several days for the replacement part to arrive. He was made aware of the problem after his return from vacation.

“I personally witnessed the dirty water at the Figurski house. It is not good. it is bad, at times it is putrid. it’s almost embarrassing, but we’re trying all we can, I try to do as much as I can to help,” Jenkins said.

“It’s temporarily resolved. We still have some investigating to do on some more valves, but once that’s resolved, my recommendation will be to come to council and complete a loop. With comp of the loop, there sill won’t be a guarantee it’s going to fix it but it has to help.”

Figurski said she’s satisfied Jenkins is doing all he can to clean her dirty water, but thinks council needs to keep its focus on infrastructure. After months of sometimes heated discussion, council this week reached a “broad consensus” to earmark about $8.3 million of the city’s remaining American Rescue Plan fund allotment for water and sewer projects.

“I was frustrated they kept talking about the bridge and marina,” she said. “Put it in infrastructure, we all need water, clean water. that’s where they need to put it. I’m glad to hear they finally decided to do the water tower and address the sewage problem, but that’s the tip of the iceberg.”


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