City plans massive water main saddle replacement

Work on Main Street project expected to take place this spring

After repeated failures of water main saddles along Main Street and an ineffective attempt to replace a handful thought to be in the worst shape, the Shawano Field Committee on Tuesday voted to go all in on a massive saddle replacement project.

The work anticipated to take place this spring will replace 61 saddles at a projected cost of about $150,000.

The money will come from the Department of Public Works’ water utility fund.

There had been money in the fund set aside for a Fifth Street reconstruction project this fall from Hamlin Street to Fairview Way in conjunction with the state Department of Transportation.

The DOT, which is covering 80 percent of the project, has decided to push the project into 2019, freeing up the city’s share to be used for the saddle replacements, according to Public Works Coordinator Eddie Sheppard.

A corroded saddle was blamed for a water main break outside Dreier Pharmacy at 117 S. Main St. on Jan. 4, the latest in a series of saddle failures over the last several years.

The saddles hold in place the service connection to the water main and were installed during the Main Street reconstruction project in 2002 and 2003, which stretched from the channel to the Mountain Bay Trail at Oshkosh Street.

The city started experiencing problems with the saddles in 2009.

Two water main breaks occurred in the 100 block of North Main Street in February 2009 and December 2010, only about 50 to 75 feet away from one another. Another saddle failed in the 200 block of South Main Street in September 2013.

It was determined that high levels of chloride in the soil were responsible for those saddle failures.

Random soil tests were done in 2015 by Mach IV Engineering, of Green Bay. Out of 20 locations sampled, chloride levels above 500 parts per million were found at three locations. Five others had chloride levels above 300 ppm.

The stainless steel used in the saddles could start to deteriorate at chloride levels over 300 ppm, according to city officials. At levels above 500 ppm, the deterioration is much faster.

Chloride levels in the area of the three previous water main breaks were in the range of 900 ppm, as a result of years of street salt seeping into the soil.

The city hoped it had the problem licked after it hired Grunewald Inc. in September 2015 to replace stainless steel saddles at eight Main Street locations where they were at risk for potential corrosion.

Three of the saddle replacements took place in the 100 block of North Main Street, two in the 100 block of South Main Street, one in the 200 block of North Main, one in the 200 block of South Main and one in the 100 block of West Fourth Street.

One of the saddles replaced was just south of the one that failed on Jan. 4.

The new saddles will be wrapped in heavy plastic and additional back-fill will be added to protect the saddles from the chloride.

The work is expected to take three weeks and will cover an area from the 200 block of South Main Street into the 200 block of North Main Street.

Sheppard said plans are being drawn up that would seek to minimize disruption along Main Street during the project.