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Somebody's Gotta Do It: Water Distribution Crew

Meet one crew that helps repair and maintain the 750 miles of pipe so water flows to your home.
 To get water to our homes and businesses 750 miles of water mains run under the city of Wichita Falls.

That equates to more than six trips to Fort Worth!

Some of those pipes have been in the ground for 100 years, but regardless of age, the ground shifting takes a toll on pipes.

It is inevitable some are going to spring leaks, sooner or later.

With the city moving to stage 4 drought restrictions Saturday, plugging those leaks as fast as possible is crucial.

In our latest Somebody's Gotta Do It photojournalist Jake VanDonge and Gwyn Bevel met one of the crews responsible for finding the leaks and getting them repaired and these guys really dig their jobs.

For twenty years now Roy Johnson has been on an important mission.

In those years, he has pinpointed countless leaks and saved countless gallons of water.

Roy Johnson says, "I had just got out of the military looking for a job and found an opening here at the city and applied for it and here I am."

The Water Distribution crews spring into action when an underground pipe springs a leak on your street.

Johnson: "Oh, if they see water they will call in.  No matter what if they see a little water on the ground they call in, but that is good though.  When they call in we respond whether it is a leak or not we have to respond.  We have to maintain the water system, make the water safe you know for the public." 

A job Roy says gets pretty dirty.

Johnson: "Oh, always, everyday, all day."

The search for the source takes them several feet below ground before they ever truly know what they are up against.

Johnson: "A certain job like this, a service line leak sometimes be two hours, sometimes be four, sometimes it can take up to a day or two.  It just depends on what we find when we dig it out."

Find is the key word, it's a hunt alright, pipes don't always break during business hours or in the most convenient places.

After a sensitive dig on each side they discover the leak is directly under the sidewalk.

They rely on high-tech equipment to locate the path of lines underground.

They also use tools up top that cause as little damage to property as possible.

Johnson: "Our parts room is going to bring us a saw out here in order to cut the rebar, in order to limit the damage of pulling out more sidewalk."

Along the way they run into obstacles, some they even have to move out of their way.

Johnson: "We already located the water line, so we are pretty close to where the water leak is going to be.  We need to remove that sewer line out of our way."

Once the source is found, they have to shut off the water, so time is of the essence.

Roy says most folks understand...somebody's gotta do it.

Johnson: "They understand, they have to be back in order, they understand yes."

And it's restoring service to the nearly 30,000 families in Wichita Falls that has motivated Roy for two decades now, saving as much of that liquid gold that is now more valuable to Texoma than the black gold that used to spew above the ground.

Johnson: "I mean I love it.  I have been here twenty years...come on, we have openings, come on down."

The city has ten crews that keep water flowing in Wichita Falls.

There is always a crew on call 24/7 and 365 days a year.
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