Water main leak under river declared emergency

NEW ULM — The City Council on Tuesday affirmed Mayor Terry Sveine’s declaration of a local emergency to replace a leaking water main under the Minnesota River.

On Aug. 16, a leak in New Ulm’s raw water line that feeds well water from the north wellfield to the plant was discovered.

Due to the pipe failure, the wells was taken offline. These wells are two of our four largest wells and produce approximately 1,000 gallons per minute about 30% of the city’s average water demand when fully functioning. For this reason and the potential accessibility issues associated with flooding and compromised soils in spring and winter, the Utilities Department considered this project a top priority.

“We need to get this done as efficiently and as quickly as possible,” Utility Director Kris Manderfeld said.

The goal is to have the project completed this fall before winter. Due to the high probability of flooding in the spring, it was recommended not to delay the project.

Summer also is not an optimal time to make the repair, because the demand for water is greatest.

Manderfeld said this project falls under the Minnesota Emergency Management Act, which allows for the quickest replacement of the main.

“To be clear, there is adequate and safe water,” Manderfeld said. “What this does is allow us to push forward the quoting process, ordering supplies because this is a large dollar amount.”

Sveine had already declared the emergency before Tuesday’s meeting, but the council was required to affirm it.

Councilor Eric Warmka made the motion to affirm the declaration, with a second from Councilor David Christian. The council voted 4-0 to affirm the emergency, with Les Schultz absent.

To find the origin of the leak, holes were bored along the length of the raw water line and a leak detecting firm was called in to help find the leak.

Through bore holes and other measures, the leak was discovered to be under the Minnesota River, approximately 15 feet from the bank. This raw water line feeds water from wells #20 and #21 to the treatment plant.


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