The recent cold snap has created challenges for the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) in the form of broken water lines and mains all over town.
There have been four water main breaks since the recent freezing temperatures began according to Allen Elsasser, BPU water superintendent.
The majority of calls have come at night, usually after 11 p.m. Dealing with the extreme cold requires creative measures to stay warm.
“Workers switch off about every 15 minutes. One stays warm in the truck while the other works,” Elsasser said.
Good gloves, hand warmers and the right outerwear also help workers stay warm in freezing temperatures.
Sometimes just finding the source of the leak can be difficult in the extreme cold. As BPU General Manager Rick Anderson explained at Monday’s commission meeting, a layer of hard-frozen frost in the ground may not allow water to come to the surface directly above the leak, but force it laterally until it finds a spot it can break through.
A recent break outside Randy and Cheryl Willems home in the 500 block of S. Ash St. came to the surface a block over on Hickory Street.
Randy Willems first noticed the leak about 5 p.m. Saturday in his basement. He went outside to find a pool of standing water in his front yard. Once he shut the water main off the water soaked into the ground.
“I’m glad I caught it when I did. If I’d not noticed until morning, we could have had a real mess,” Willems said.
Workers were still trying to repair the line Tuesday afternoon by boring the line.
“It’s been an inconvenience. We’ve had to shower at our family’s house and get water from the neighbors,” Willems said.