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A new piece of equipment is helping the City of Minot’s water/sewer department conduct preventative maintenance on 7,500 gate valves.
The $89,000 piece of equipment, which sits on its own trailer, also has a pressure washing nozzle and a 200-gallon vacuum tank. A crew of two employees is using it as part of the City’s new gate valve inspection program, which is designed to proactively inspect the City’s 7,500 gate valves to make sure they work.
“It’s been going really well. We’re still getting used to some aspects of the system, but we’re getting more familiar with the software and how the systems operate,” said John Reynolds, superintendent of the City's water/sewer department. “As of now, about 180 gate valves that have never been exercised before have been completed, so we’re making good progress.”
Gate valves are used to turn water mains off and on. A typical intersection includes one or two gate valves. It’s important that the valves work properly in case water needs to be shut off to a certain area during a water main break. Leaking gate valves also cause problems.
Reynolds said the new machine helps safely exercise some gate valves that haven’t been worked for years.
“It insures that the gate valves are operational when they’re needed,” he said. “If they haven’t been tested for 20 years, you never know if they’ll work when needed. We have come across a few valves that needed repairs.”
The system allows crew members to choose how much pressure they want to apply to the valves when turning them off and on, reducing the chances that valves are damaged or broken during the process.
“We’ll attach the arm to the gate valve, and put in our preferred settings as to how much torque it will apply to the gate valve. Then the machine does the work,” Reynolds said. “If it encounters a spot that is rusty and it hits the threshold of torque we’ve set, it will stop and ask what we want it to do.”
The new equipment is smaller and easier to bring on location in a water emergency.
“If we do get called out in the middle of the night, we can hook up to this trailer and bring it to the site in case we need to vacuum out debris or sand from gate valve risers or use the pressure washer,” Reynolds said. “We don’t have to bring a vacuum truck or other equipment because this is a one-stop shop. It has everything we need.”
The crew has been working in the area between 16th Street and 25th Street SW/NW and between 2nd Avenue SW and 4th Avenue NW.
The crew is also inspecting, testing, and painting hydrants in the same area. That work can stir up sediment in water pipes, and could make residents’ water temporarily cloudy. If you notice your water looks discolored, letting the water run for a few minutes should help flush the sediment from the system.