Phippsburg home floods, crews find shut-off valve under concrete pad

Tom Ross

— Eight households in the unincorporated South Routt County town of Phippsburg were without water overnight Sunday into mid-afternoon Monday after a broken valve in a water line in an unoccupied house flooded its crawl space and poured water into the street for an undetermined amount of time.

The first crew to respond to the scene could not find the exterior shut-off valve in the yard of the home and had no choice but to shut off the water main to a single block in Phippsburg, Interim Routt County Environmental Health Department Director Heather Savalox told the Routt County commissioners Monday morning.

“You hate for an incident like this to happen anywhere,” Savalox said. “It’s a small, hardworking community.”

First thing Monday a crew from Native Excavating responded and determined that the “missing” shut-off valve on the service line between the water main and the house was beneath a poured concrete pad.

“Things like that happen over time,” Savalox said. “People landscape over their (shut-off valve) or pave over them.”

Water shut-off valves often take the form of small steel discs that protrude from the ground just below the grass line in front of a home. The shut-off valves to individual residences are supposed to be maintained.

Routt County operates the water and sanitation plants for Phippsburg, but the plant operator was on vacation at the time the flood was discovered, and a back-up operator contracted with the county was the first to respond to the scene.

The county has responsibility for the water mains, Savalox told the commissioners, but the service line into the home is the responsibility of the owner and they will receive a bill for work needed to repair the leak.

Asked by the commissioners how they might avert a future incident of the same nature, Savalox said that short of upgrading the little community’s water system, it might be wise to take a current inventory of shut-off valves and their locations.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1

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