Deep Drill Solves City’s Water Main Crisis

Under The Boise River
December 2012, Vol. 67 No. 12

On Sunday, April 8, a water main beneath the Boise River near East 52nd Street burst when a dislodged tree floating in the river crashed into it. Immediately, water to supply hundreds of homes in the Plantation neighborhood of Garden City, a suburb of Boise, ID, was disrupted. The city worked quickly to patch the damaged pipe, which was originally installed in the riverbed during the 1970s, but knew a more permanent solution was needed.

Although the river is cleaned out regularly when water levels are low, drifting debris has eroded the riverbed over the years, leaving the older pipe buried just a few feet under the ground. As crews raced to get water flowing back to the residents, city leaders worked on a proposal for the installation of a new water main.

According to local news sources, the proposed line would be 16 inches in diameter or greater to accommodate the city’s current residents and future growth. City leaders also proposed that the replacement line would run along Remington Street and be buried deep under the river to prevent future debris snags. Finally, the proposal called for the line to connect to another water source on the southwest side of the river bank, upstream from the broken pipe, where it would tie back to the city’s public works facilities. The entire project was estimated to cost approximately $700,000 and would be paid for out of the city’s emergency funds, which are set aside for such events.

As city leaders worked out the details of the project, it was decided that the final project would be a 20-inch water main, with two-inch thick walls, installed 50-feet below the river’s surface. To make sure that water service disruptions would be minimal, the city mandated that the project needed to be completed in one month.

To the rescue
To accomplish this feat, the city hired Shane Mace and his directional boring crew at Track Utilities to handle the 650-foot bore underneath the river with their Vermeer D80x100 Series II Navigator horizontal directional drill. Established in 2002, Track Utilities’ crews have extensive experience in all types of utility installation, maintenance and repair, making them the ideal contractor for the job.

“We started in business 10 years ago with the idea that we could take care of our customers better than larger companies could,” says Mace, Track Utilities president. “We work with customers such as Idaho Power, CenturyLink, Frontier Telecom as well as a number of small rural utility services.