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Raging fire hydrant raises questions in Billings - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Raging fire hydrant raises questions in Billings

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(MTN News) (MTN News)
BILLINGS -

For more than two weeks there has been massive construction near the intersection of Grand Avenue and Division Avenue in downtown Billings.

The city is replacing water and sewer lines under the street.

If you have been in the area, you may have seen water gushing from a hose attached to a fire hydrant.

The treated water pools by the curb and floods around the sidewalk before flowing down a storm drain.

The free-flowing water raises some questions: Why is this allowed to happen? How much water is flowing out of the hose? How long is it going to keep flowing? Why can’t the city divert the water?

City engineers said it's a a necessary evil.

To replace the sewer and water lines in the area, the water valve must be shut off, which completely blocks the water, according to Travis Harris, with the Billings Public Works Engineering Division.

Due to old city infrastructure, too much water pressure would blow the valve, Harris said.

To avoid this, the city must release some of the pressure by running the water above ground.

The water has been flowing for 24 hours per day, seven days a week.

Harris does not know how much water has been lost in the process, but said it would be a lot more if the valve blew.

When asked about diverting the water to Pioneer Park to water the grass, Harris said it would likely cost more than the cost of the water flowing down the storm drain. 

The project is scheduled for 120 days, but Harris said the affected water lines should be replaced sometime next week.

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