UTAH COUNTY -- Construction work is ramping up this week on a canal that has long been a safety concern. Turning the Murdock Canal in Utah County into a pipeline will improve safety and conserve water.
The pipe is being made at Northwest Pipe Company in Pleasant Grove, roughly a mile from the canal.
The Provo River Water Users Association says the canal transformation will help conserve water and protect it from contaminants. It will also improve safety, as there have been some tragedies in the canal over the years.
Steel coil made in Alabama is welded into a spiral tube at the factory in Pleasant Grove, which is turned into the pipe.
"There's a big component of recycled steel in these pipes. Some of it is new steel that has been manufactured, but a large amount of it is recycled materials, like the ‘Cash for Clunkers' cars," said Michael Wray, the operations manager Northwest Pipe Company.
The pipe sections are inspected by hand and even pressure tested with water to ensure there are no leaks. In all, the pipe-making process takes about a week. When a section is finished, it is 40 feet long, 10 1/2 feet in diameter, and can hold 26,000 gallons of water.
The factory invested millions in new equipment to manufacture the large pipe locally, and the project has created 65 new jobs at the plant.
"The economic benefit to the city and the community was a big factor for us," Wray said.
In all, the project, including the installation, is pumping $235 million to the local economy. More than a mile of the 21-mile pipeline has already been installed.
"So far, we've laid about 6,900 feet of pipe going across Pleasant Grove, into Cedar Hills, and into American Fork," said Steve Cain, of the Provo River Water Users Association. "We hope to average about 400 linear feet of pipe being laid each day."
When the pipeline is finished it will transport 400 million gallons of water every day.
"This is a great project because it is local people and American steel, and it's proof we can still do very large things in the United States," Cain said.
Most of the work of installing the pipe has to be done during the winter because water will have to be put back in the canal May 1. Project managers say the pipeline is still on schedule to be finished in April 2012.