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Frigid weather causes breaks in water lines
Water leaks fixed.jpg
McMinnville Water Department maintenance crews worked waist deep in a hole and ankle deep in mud on Wednesday repairing water line breaks. Pictured is Caleb Johnson, standing, and Skyler Walker completing the unpleasant task.

While continuously running water will help homeowners prevent a water line freeze, the same can’t be said for McMinnville Water Department.

McMinnville water maintenance crews worked waist deep in holes and ankle deep in mud on Sioux Trail and Pace Street on Wednesday. Repaired were two water line breaks due to winter weather.  

“It’s the nature of the beast,” said Water and Sewer Department director Ricky Morton. “We had that heavy wet snow back a couple weeks ago. Then, cold weather and the ground froze. Then, heavy rain. If you have any kind of weak point in the water line, it will shear.”

When that happens, customers will call reporting either low water pressure or water coming from underground. 

The latter happened Wednesday, said maintenance supervisor Heath Collins.

“The reports were water coming from the ground,” said Collins. “We conducted a live fix. We throttled the upstream and downstream valves to reduce the pressure. You get wet, but it saves us a lot of trouble. If we leave them live, we just have to take samples upstream and downstream, as required, and turn those in for testing.” 

A live fix also prevents customers from being without water while the repair is made. 

“Those repairs were made as quickly as possible,” said Morton. “We pull our samples and do everything the state requires. The worst thing is when customers are without water. Sometimes we can isolate the leak and prevent any outages, such as in this situation.”

Crews worked more than four hours, from approximately 3:15 to 7:30 p.m.

“If someone sees water running down the street or coming from the ground, give us a call and we will check it,” said Morton. “The same with low water pressure. Give us a call so we can check on it.” 

To report possible water line breaks Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., call 473-3165. The department’s emergency after-hours number is 224-8150.