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Overhaul of Rawlins and Sinclair water infrastructure is progressing 

The Rawlins water reservoir under a cloudy blue sky.
Caitlin Tan
Wyoming Public Media

Progress is being made on the Rawlins and Sinclair water infrastructure after parts of the towns went without water for seven days in March.

Poorly maintained and aging infrastructure that supplies Rawlins and Sinclair residents with drinking water led to water shortages, and a sustained drought did not help the issue.

Some of the updates include more funding and a pipe being replaced. The City of Rawlins recently received a state grant of $675,000 to add blow-offs and cathodic protection to the main 32-mile steel transmission water line. This will help with leaks and prevent the pipe from rusting.

Additionally, the city completed installation of 10,000 feet of a PVC pipeline, replacing some of the 100-year-old wood stave pipeline.

“Which are made kind of in a similar process to a barrel where you put pieces of wood together and kind of clamp them down,” Mira Miller, the City of Rawlins community relations coordinator, said. “And obviously, that's an older technology.”

Miller said the new pipeline will hopefully save millions of gallons of water from leaking. The system will officially switch to the new PVC pipeline later this month.

Also, planning and contract work will begin this month on the new pre-water treatment plant. This facility will help clean dirtier reservoir water that the current treatment plant cannot process quickly.

The water treatment plant also received two new water filters to replace two filters that stopped working last summer. Miller said this was not urgent, as the facility still had two working filters, but it is important infrastructure to have as a backup.

Water restrictions that were enforced this spring, like only watering lawns once a week, remain in place.

“I'm really proud of our community for taking it seriously,” Miller said. “I know it's hard. Lawns don’t like to only get an hour of water a week.”

Miller said even with the updates the restrictions will likely remain in place through the summer. Originally, the city feared that if residents did not follow restrictions both Rawlins and Sinclair would have run out of water by mid-summer. Miller said this is not a concern now.

The entire overhaul of the system will cost about $20 million, which Miller said the city has applied for partly in loans.

Caitlin Tan is the Energy and Natural Resources reporter based in Sublette County, Wyoming. Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 2017, she’s reported on salmon in Alaska, folkways in Appalachia and helped produce 'All Things Considered' in Washington D.C. She formerly co-hosted the podcast ‘Inside Appalachia.' You can typically find her outside in the mountains with her two dogs.
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