New water line project means end to black-bag hydrants

Langley's black-bagged fire hydrants will finally be removed during a water-line replacement project later this year on First Street.

LANGLEY — The end is near for a few of Langley’s trashy-looking fire hydrants.

Public Works Director Challis Stringer said the city is planning a $355,000 project to replace an undersized water line along First Street later this year.

When the line is upgraded, two faulty fire hydrants on the city’s main drag that have been wrapped in black trash bags since 2009 will be yanked out and replaced.

City officials conducted a full test of the water system nearly three years ago and found the hydrants — one in front of the Star Store, the other near Park Avenue — didn’t work properly.

“They’ve been black-bagged since,” Stringer said.

The city researched the possibility of replacing the hydrants earlier, but discovered they were too small, along with the water line they’re hooked up to.

“They are 4-inch hydrants off a 4-inch line, and we are required by the state to have 8-inch hydrants. And you can’t put an 8-inch hydrant on a 4-inch line,” Stringer explained.

“If we invested $30,000 to replace the hydrants with 4-inch hydrants, we would just have to rip them out again. It was a waste of money, which is why they have been black-bagged for so long.”

Installing new hydrants would also mean shutting down the water system because there are no shut-off valves for the hydrants now, she said.

The bad hydrants haven’t posed a safety problem.

Stringer said the city contacted the fire department about the hydrants, and officials said there were other hydrants close enough nearby to guarantee adequate fire-fighting flows.

The 4-inch line on First Street is old and has never been upgraded.

Another old line, a 2-inch pipe on Decker Avenue, must also be replaced at some point, but the First Street line is a bigger priority, Stringer said.

When work gets underway later this year, a total of 1,750 feet of water line along First Street will be replaced with an 8-inch line; 900 feet between De Bruyn Avenue and the west side of the Inn at Langley, and 850 feet of line from Wharf Street to Anthes Avenue.

One lane may be closed on First Street for safety reasons during construction.

The city expects to start the project this fall, and the work is expected to take a month to complete.

“I would prefer to do it in spring, just to have it done by summer, but I don’t think that we can get the engineering done before then,” Stringer said.