Millcreek Hydrants Coming Up Dry

Millcreek Hydrants Coming Up Dry

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (AP) -- Firefighters who are having problems finding reliable water hydrants in the Millcreek area think aging and small pipes may be the reason.

"It's hit and miss," Fire Capt. Jay Ziolkowski said of the area south of 3000 South and east of 300 East. "That's one of those things where you just don't know what you're going to get."

Although county firefighters put out 90 percent of fires with water from their trucks, hydrants still play a role and Salt Lake City firefighters were inspecting them last week. Problem plugs are marked for other firefighters.

"We've got a pretty good plan in place," said Scott Freitag, city Fire Department spokesman.

Replacing the miles of underground pipes would cost an estimated $55 million. Water companies, city and county officials have been trying to figure out who should pick up the tab.

"We're playing Russian roulette with fire hydrants," said Richard Lee, chairman of the East Millcreek Community Council. "I've got a fire hydrant in my front yard and I'd sure like to know that God forbid if there's a fire at my house, that there would be enough water to put it out."

Discussions about replacing the pipes have been going on for more than a decade. Small water companies argue that the city should pay. The city counters that if it did, then the pipes would belong to the city.

"We think it's (Salt Lake City's) responsibility, and they think it's ours," said Werner Ronne, secretary-treasurer of the Big Cottonwood Tanner Ditch Co. "We've been trying to talk to them about this for 15 years."

The Salt Lake County Council formed a committee last week to seek an agreement with all the parties. County Councilman Russell Skousen, who represents the Millcreek area, says he hopes that committee succeeds.

"It's a nagging problem and it's a problem that we want to see addressed," he said. "I don't think folks are in imminent danger because the firefighters know they have a problem there and they may just have to drag hoses a little farther."

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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