PG crews repair major water leaks

Photo Courtesy City of Prairie Grove
Prairie Grove public works employees Issac Castro, Brian Crigler and Zack Myers work on a water line break Jan. 14 on West Park Street. Joshua Smith is not pictured. The city had another major break on Jan. 15 and a third one Jan. 18.
Photo Courtesy City of Prairie Grove Prairie Grove public works employees Issac Castro, Brian Crigler and Zack Myers work on a water line break Jan. 14 on West Park Street. Joshua Smith is not pictured. The city had another major break on Jan. 15 and a third one Jan. 18.

PRAIRIE GROVE -- With record-breaking temperatures in the single-digits, public works employees repaired three major water leaks last week, with water consumption up by 40% at times because of the leaks and because of residents leaving faucets dripping so their pipes wouldn't freeze.

"We had quite a bit of water going through the system," Chuck Wiley, public works director, said Friday.

Fingers crossed, Wiley said Friday everything was working except for an issue at the water storage tanks. The controls would freeze at night and staff would have to go out and thaw those controls.

The three employees on call, plus three others who volunteered to come in and work, repaired the first break on West Park Street after working on it for five hours Sunday, Jan. 14, Wiley said.

They were back out Monday morning plowing snow-covered streets at 7:30 a.m. until about 3 p.m. and Wiley said he sent them home to rest.

"I had plant operators driving snow plows and street guys working on water leaks," Wiley said.

About four hours later, the city received the call about a major leak on Battlefield Road and employees were back out in the frigid temperature and worked on this water break until 9 a.m. the next day.

Normal usage, Wiley said, is 650,000-700,000 gallons a day. This jumped to 1.2 million gallons with the leak on Jan. 15.

"That was a big leak," he said.

Prairie Grove's water loss is about 20%, and the state says that anything below 20% is good, according to Wiley. With the leaks and dripping faucets, the city's water loss increased to about 28% last week, Wiley said.

The third leak was a smaller one on North Mock Street.

Wiley said he couldn't say if the leaks were all weather-related. He said it's possible the pipes were already weak and the weather brought on the leak.

For example, the water line for the leak on Battlefield Road was not very old, only 10 years. It's uncommon to have a break for a line that old.

"The majority of leaks we find are at the bottom of the pipe, where they are sitting on hard rock," he said.

Wiley, who also was working with his crews most of the time, praised his staff.

"I've got a great group of guys," he said. "They smiled because it was part of the job, put on a lot of clothes and went out there. They really answered the call."

He also thanked the city and community for being supportive by providing meals and hot drinks during the cold weather.