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Gold Hill water project resumes after explosion

GOLD HILL ' The big blast designed to loosen stubborn river rock from the city's new water intake site on the banks of the Rogue River appears to have been a success, officials said.

The blast was completely successful and left plenty of room for the intake site's concrete base, said Royal Gasso, Gold Hill public works director.

The &

36;1,084,000 project to install new intake pumps for Gold Hill's municipal water system is back on track, Gasso said.

State and federal officials ordered the city to abandon its old intake system because it is an impediment to fish passage in the river.

Contractor Johnny Cat Inc. subcontracted the Aug. 18 detonation to BJ Equipment of Eugene. The attempt to blast a hole in the bedrock on the riverbank was intended to be uneventful. But the thundering blast sent a load of rock and debris flying from one side of the river to the other.

— But the unanticipated rockfall did not result in any fallout from regulatory agencies, said Bill Myers of the Department of Environmental Quality.

I was there about an hour after the blast and the water was looking good, said Myers in an earlier interview. There were no violations.

In late July, Myers contacted Bob Lobdell of the Department of State Lands about turbidity violations. Myers said he witnessed Johnny Cat crews puncturing the walls of the project's cofferdams, sending streams of muddy water spilling into the river. The regulatory violations ultimately resulted ina temporaryshutdown of the project.

Tuesday's job-site meeting with representatives from the city, Lee-Pace Engineering and Johnny Cat went smoothly, said Gasso and Ed Hodges of Lee-Pace.

Initial survey information shows the building site slab will be in the right location and at the right elevation, Hodges said.

We're pretty happy, he said. Whatever damage was done ' if any was done ' appears to have been successfully contained by Johnny Cat.

Aside from some minor seepage which is being mitigated for Wednesday's concrete pour, said Gasso, the force of the blast did no damage to the project's cofferdams. It did allow Johnny Cat construction crews to remove tons of rubble-ized debris, he said.

The concrete forms are in place for the slab pour, said Gasso. The city is really pleased with the progress.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the city's request to extend the in-river work period, Gasso said.

They approved the work period be extended from Aug. 31 to Sept. 15, said Gasso.

The Department of State Lands also approved the project extension, Hodges said.

At that point we'll probably need a week or a week and a half extension beyond that, he said. And I'm reasonably confident that we'll get it.

Lobdell of DSL did not return phone calls Tuesday. A message left at Johnny Cat Inc. also did not result in a return call.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail Gold Hill water project resumes after explosion"sspecht@mailtribune.com.