One 5,000-gallon water tank was already in the ground when the second concrete tank arrived shortly after 2 p.m. on Wednesday.
The tanks, installed behind the tennis courts at Rush Valley Town Hall, doubled the town’s available water for fire suppression. Connected to a gravity-fed fire hydrant rated at 500 gallons per minute the tanks, are fed by a nearby spring, according to Weston Jensen of Utah Underground of Tooele.
The $36,000 project was completed through a partnership between Shambip Conservation District, Rush Valley Water Conservation District and Utah Conservation Commission, according to Alisa Meyer, a board member of the Shambip Conservation District. The project to improve fire suppression capabilities was conceived about a year and a half ago, she said.
“A lot of these remote communities don’t have a lot of access to water, especially in the winter time,” Meyer said.
While fire departments may have access to irrigation lines or reservoirs in the summer, many of those sources are frozen or unavailable in the winter, Meyer said.
“In the winter we need a freeze-proof source of water that they can tap into to fight these mostly structural fires,” said Darrell Johnson, a Rush Valley Water Conservancy District board member.
Meyer said Shambip Conservation District and its state and local partners are looking to install water tanks and other resources in remote communities in the county, such as Terra and Ibapah.
On Tuesday, they received confirmation the state Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands would be providing $50,000 for the next project.
“We’re going to keep coming back to our existing partners and see if we can get a minimum of … six sites,” Meyer said.
Rush Valley Fire Chief Kevin Russell said prior to the tank installation, the town’s fire engines were limited to the water they could carry, about 4,000 gallons. Mutual aid resources coming into town during a fire would be to resupply water, he said.
“Our response time is cut down immensely by having this system put in,” Russell said. “Sometimes we’ve actually had to go out of town to get water for fires, so this is a big, big help.”
Russell said the fire department’s Insurance Service Offices rating is currently a 9 out of 10, on a descending scale. He said the improved water supply should likely lower the rating to an 8, working toward a 7.5.
It means cost of insurance for the Town of Rush Valley and its residents should also drop, with the improved ISO rating, Russell said. Residents should contact their insurance providers about the improvement to the fire department’s rating once it’s finalized.
Meyer said the next step for the conservation district and its partners is to identify the locations next in line by need. The partnership is working with Tooele County Fire Warden Daniel Walton to locate the next project.