Buckley water main breaks

The town of Buckley may have finally run out of luck.

For years, a relatively small section of the city’s water transmission main has been the recipient of numerous and temporary patch jobs.

The cost to permanently repair the conduit would be easily in the realm of the hundreds of thousands of dollars, perhaps millions, thus the frequent repairs.

The knockout punch to the town’s main water source was delivered by Mother Nature sometime during the evening of Jan. 7, when persistent rains caused a landslide that took out not only a 30-foot section of the already susceptible main water transmission pipe, but also a 30-foot portion of access road, which will make repairs a bit dicey, not to mention more expensive.

“We’ve got a group of engineers up there right now trying to assess the extensive damage,” Buckley City Administrator Dave Schmidt said. “It was just a matter of time before a cataclysmic event of this kind occurred.’

Schmidt said the city was just recovering from the damage that the pipeline sustained during the Nov. 12 storm, which coincided pretty closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s delivery of its original estimate as to how much the repair job was going to cost.

“Their estimates were in the neighborhood of $400,000 just to repair that small section,” Schmidt said. “It is going to cost a lot to do the job right.”

Because of the challenging location of the pipe in relation to the hillside, about a mile and a half from town, “we are first going to redig a ledge for the pipe to rest on and before we do that we are going to have to clear off the debris and re-establish the access road,” Schmidt said.

FEMA will now have to reassess things and, once the agency arrives at an estimate, it is responsible for 75 percent of that cost, Schmidt said.

Funding remains an issue, though, and the city will be exploring any and all avenues by which to raise money in a hurry, Schmidt said, adding a hope that Buckley might be in line for some federal stimulus money.

Although time is of the essence, there is no cause for panic, he added.

“There are no health risks associated with our well water,” Schmidt maintained. “People won’t have to boil their water before drinking it. We still have three large wells to draw water from and while admittedly the wells are far from being a reasonable long-term solution, they are nice to have as a backup water supply.”

Reach John Leggett at or 360-802-8207.

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