Keeping Our Drinking Water Flowing

So far in 2021, Elkins Water System employees have responded to about five dozen broken water mains. This is in addition to performing planned work to replace fire hydrants,  faulty valves, and related maintenance and upgrades essential to keeping drinking water flowing to our faucets and reducing system losses due to leaky pipes.

Most of this year’s broken mains have been concentrated in South Elkins. These breaks are related to the ongoing project to reduce sewage overflows to the river by separating our current combined sewer/storm-water lines into distinct sewer and storm-water lines. (Learn more about the sewer/storm-water separation project here.) A combination of very soft soils and very old pipes are the main culprits that our contractor and the South Elkins water customers have been struggling with.

After-hours water-main breaks can result in as many as 6-8 hours of overtime per person per break. But what does that really look like?

This photo is from just one day in  September when—after a normal workday—overtime work started at 4 p.m. to help Bear Contracting move a water line for the sewer/stormwater project.

While that work was proceeding, a leak was reported on Bruce Street. Elkins Street Department heavy equipment operators joined this repair effort, but even with that extra assistance, work on Bruce Street lasted until midnight.

But the night still wasn’t over. Instead of punching out and heading home for some already well-deserved rest, Water System and Street Department personnel shifted to yet another leak that had cropped up in the meantime, this one over on Yokum Street. Fortunately, the Yokum break was a small one. It “only” took city employees until 2 a.m. to resolve.

At City of Elkins, we are grateful for this kind of teamwork and for the hard work and dedication of these vital public servants. We hope you are, too.

Pictured: Wes Lambert, Gary Bonnell, Eric “Tiny” Hiner, Remington Stanley (Street Dept.), and—in the trench with shovels—D.J. Shoulder and R.D. Walters. Assisting but not pictured: G.B. Bonnell and Shawn Akers (Street Dept.).

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