It’s Thursday morning in Eagle Mountain’s City Center. Back-up beepers from construction equipment can be heard for several blocks.

On this first day of September with temperatures in the low 70s, four Eagle Mountain City Water Department employees find themselves loosely gathered around some dug out dirt on West Pinion Circle in The Landing subdivision.

They’re working to make final repairs to a water main break in the area. Water has been shut off for about one hour to 45 homes, but some additional time is needed to complete the work effectively.

“We cleared out the sand, cleaned around it, and then we were able to just take the four bolts off and take the old top off because there were some bolts eroding on the operating nut,” said Water Department Supervisor Matt Mortensen. “It was just a matter of time. Instead of putting a band-aid, we wanted all new.”

Eagle Mountain’s soil is innately acidic. In prior decades, equipment manufactured for use in utility infrastructure was relatively susceptible to degradation. A couple of times every year, this material erosion shows itself in the form of cracked pipes and damaged bolts and valves.

The modern era affords the City’s Water Department parts and materials that are far less affected by the natural make up of the soil. This is what the City’s Water Department is working to upgrade today.

Having just hopped off the phone, Mortensen — donning a yellow safety vest, sunglasses and sporting some facial hair on his chin — points to the hydro-excavation truck being used to access the valve under the ground.

“When you’re digging, you need to do a blue stake. It verifies where the power is, the gas is, the communication, the water line, sewer line. So that’s what’s nice about this truck,” says Mortensen. “A lot of times, when we respond to stuff like this, we will use the excavator just to pull up the asphalt. Depending on the material…with this, it doesn’t rip and tear gas lines in the ground.”

Thursday’s work is a follow-up to a sudden break in the water main in the same location on Monday.

Residents of The Landing notified the Sheriff’s Office and, subsequently, the City of the issue but not before a City employee was on scene through sheer happenstance.   

Water operator Derrick Rowberry was walking his Labrador, about five months old, near Skyline Drive on Monday around 8:45 p.m.

“It was just starting to get dark outside, and I saw a couple residents with flashlights. And I looked over and could see the sheen in the road. I was like ‘oh no,’” said Rowberry referring to Monday night’s incident. “I wasn’t sure if it was a sprinkler break. I could see water bubbling where this valve was, so I knew it was centered here.”

One Eagle Mountain resident was able to park his vehicle in front of the leak site to prevent traffic from driving over the area.

“The first thing is to make sure no one gets hurt,” says Rowberry. “So, I’ve got to commend the residents for stepping up and making sure it’s safe.”

Water main breaks are of particular concern to the Water Department. In part, this is because there’s a heightened risk for dangerous accidents.

Without prior knowledge for just how long the leak has been running, entire sections under the roadway may have been washed away. Crews recalled that very thing happening several years ago near The Ranches. Luckily, that was not the case with this break in the water main.

Water was shut down in the area for several hours Monday night, but service was restored around 1 a.m. on Tuesday with crews continuing to work until 3 a.m.

“It’s a relatively easy fix if you can shut the line down and have the parts to fix it,” said Rowberry.

A temporary fix in the form of a rubber gasket City crews fabricated from sheet rubber on hand was used to make a seal on Monday night. A new valve was ordered to make a replacement for Thursday.

“We used [the rubber] to make gaskets for numerous things,” says Rowberry. “We made that temporary gasket to get the residents back their water. Of course, that’s our first priority. One, for fire flow. Then, for the residents.”

Rowberry has worked for Eagle Mountain City for more than 11 years in total, working for other city governments in the area between stints with Eagle Mountain. He says other places just aren’t the same.

“I have a lot of heart, blood and sweat into Eagle Mountain and it’s where I live,” said Rowberry.

The tapping of the excavator removes some additional asphalt on Thursday morning. City Water Department crews want to ensure they’ve reviewed everything near the valve on the water main.

Once the valve is replaced, the hole in the ground will be backfilled and eventually covered with road base and asphalt by the City’s Streets Department.

Percolating water was at the surface within minutes Monday night due to the depth of the valve. Usually, the pipes are buried at a depth of four feet. This one, about three.  

“It’s gonna keep happening until we get to everything,” said Mortensen, referring back to the older models of the utility infrastructure.

Residents of The Landing saw water service returned within a couple hours on Thursday before City Water Department crews were off to oversee more projects.

Work to restore the roadway is anticipated for completion within several days.