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W.F. Crews Busy Repairing Water Main Breaks in Brutally Cold Temperatures

Wichita Falls crews are busy repairing in increased number of water main breaks during sub-freezing temperatures.
When you mix sub-freezing temperatures with old water pipes you get numerous problems that can come on like a flood. It's an issue the City of Wichita Falls is dealing with and it has kept water crews very busy.

Around 11:30 a.m. Monday, Wichita Falls water distribution crews were working four water main breaks in the city. At that time the temperature was 21 degrees with a wind chill of 9-degrees and workers say repairing water lines in that type of bone-chilling weather is necessary, but never easy.

Repairing a water main break is a dirty job that sub-freezing temperatures is turning into layered labor.

"I've got about 3 or 4 jackets on right now, some hand warmers.  You see me putting towels in my boots to help my feet as much as possible," says Justin Price, a worker with the Wichita Falls Water Distribution Department.

Justin Price says sometimes that is still not enough, especially when you're working in bone chilling mud and water. So, staying as dry as possible is crucial.

"Normally, the guys will bring an extra pair of clothes.  If they get wet they can change and they'll bring extra footwear if they get wet," says Chris Arnold, a utilities supervisor with the City of Wichita Falls.

Supervisors say brutally cold temperatures have contributed to crews being called to repair an average of 8 to 9 water breaks per day since early December. Because Stage 4 water restrictions are in effect, the city has a policy to shut off the water as soon as possible, instead of letting the water flow to residents as the repair is being made.

And officials say that policy often times has residents reaching the boiling point.

"There's just too many people to notify in a reasonable amount of time.  We don't have the manpower to do that plus you waste a lot of water doing that so the policy is just to turn the water off," Arnold explains.

So if you suddenly lose water pressure, chances are there is a main line leak in your area. Officials say repairing a break usually takes about two hours but can take more than 12 hours, which can take a serious toll on residents as well as the workers who are struggling to get the  leak repaired and water restored.

Chris Arnold says during his 18 years with the city this is the most water main breaks he has seen in a two month period.
 
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