Local companies unite to restore water after Yarnell Hill Fire

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4th September 2013

As the community gathered itself after the devastating Yarnell Hill Fire, which destroyed more than 100 homes, damaged an additional 23 homes and tragically claimed the lives of 19 elite hotshot firefighters, local water providers and engineers worked to get water flowing again. In response to the Yarnell Water Improvement District’s (YWID) request for help repairing its infrastructure damaged during the fire, a water response team of engineering, architecture and environmental consulting company GHD, EPCOR Water and Global Water Resources rallied to help evaluate and repair the water system.

After the flames were out, not-for-profit agency YWID was faced with the challenge of restoring safe, clean water  to the community, on top of a significantly reduced revenue base caused by the loss of homes it services. The response team of engineering and water companies answered the call for assistance, assembling to assess the district’s water system, develop an action plan and fix the damage.

During the fire, many water service lines and meter boxes were destroyed by the extreme heat. The firefighting effort also placed a huge demand on the water supply infrastructure, and stretched the system to its operating capacity, resulting in damage to hydrants, valves and booster pumps.

After completion of the initial assessment, the team pooled their resources and deployed teams to excavate and fix damaged water lines, remove melted meter boxes, and install new concrete boxes.

More than 400 hours of employee time was contributed by the response team of private companies, in addition to the equipment, meters, and pipe materials donated to complete the repairs. The  team also coordinated repairs to the YWID’s damaged backhoe, transporting it to Phoenix and arranging for a reduced-cost repair that saved thousands of dollars at a critical time.

Speaking about the team’s effort, GHD’s James Taylor, who took on the role of project manager during the assessment and repairs, says the fire and recovery effort affected everyone in Yarnell. “Things you wouldn’t normally think about – like utilities and water service – were seriously damaged,” James says.

“Responding to the need of the YWID with our partners Global Water and EPCOR Water was clearly the best way we could help get the community back on its feet. We are grateful to be able to help accomplish this.”

Much of the Yarnell water system has been successfully restored to pre-fire condition. However, the YWID is challenged to continue repairs and meet its financial obligations with a smaller number of customers, who are its sole source of revenue.

To support the YWID, visit http://www.yarnellhillrecoverygroup.org/donate.html
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For more information about this release, contact Kirill Reztsov

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