Fairgrounds waterline project complete

TWIN BRIDGES—After more than a year without a reliable water source, the Madison County fairgrounds in Twin Bridges finally has a new water main to replace the one that ruptured in November 2017. 

The line, which ran under the Beaverhead River, has been out of commission ever since, and the fairgrounds used its on-site well for its most pressing needs, including the county fair back in August. In the meantime, finding the funding to replace part of the line proved challenging.

“We thought we had it all figured out in May of 2018, only to find out we were short a few dollars,” says county commissioner Ron Nye. “Our hearts sank when that fell through.” 

Part of the reason for the financial uncertainty was the size of the line chosen for the project, larger than the one that had ruptured. That means it will be able to provide more water, and faster, than the old pipe, but also makes it more expensive.

A grant from the Treasure State Endowment Program (TSEP) was helping with the replacement, then part of that funding was also lost. It took the involvement of some state congressmen to get it reinstated.

Along with around $150,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development (RD) program, funding was finally secured in the fall. Great West Engineering pursued the permitting and engineering for the project and bored a new line under the river to install the new main in November.

“We had a good contractor and a great engineer,” says Nye of the project, which took less than three weeks once work started. “It all went really well, now it’s complete and everything’s clear.”

Fairgrounds manager Dana Escott echoed Nye’s feelings. Since her office is on the fairgrounds property, she felt the lack of water every day for a year.

“You don’t realize how much you need water until it’s gone,” Escott said. “But it was quick, and the contractor was wonderful to work with. It just seemed like it flowed very smoothly.”  

The county commissioners, engineers and fairgrounds staff took a walkthrough of the final project area on November 28 and now all that remains is some minor landscaping and seeding. Nye says after all this time, the finished product should last a good long time.

“The line is bleached, and all the tests came out favorably,” he says. “It has a long life, and part of the reason they chose the size of pipe they did means we’ll have the capacity for growth. It’ll be there for a long time.”

That’s an important element, since the fair board has long been considering the addition of a new arena to the fairgrounds in the near future. While that is still not certain, the board now has the resources to pursue new additions to the fairgrounds, which would have been much more challenging with a smaller pipe offering less available water.

For the sake of efficiency, the county and fairgrounds also added one more thing that the fairgrounds previously hadn’t had: a fire hydrant. The new addition was added reason for choosing a bigger, heavier-duty pipe, which is also corrosion resistant.

After nearly 13 months of waiting and uncertainty, Nye expressed gratitude that the project was accomplished so quickly. Hopefully, it will be the last water main replacement the fairgrounds sees for some time.

“We’re good to go,” says Escott. “Water is such a big thing, so having everything back up and running is such a relief.”

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The Madisonian

65 N. MT Hwy 287
Ennis, MT 59729

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