Louisville Water Crews Battle Cold with Biting Winds

Louisville Water trucks lined up at water main repairWinter finally got the memo and arrived Saturday with dangerously cold temperatures and biting winds.

“If it gets too cold, we’re sitting in the trucks for a minute, warming up,” said Jesse Jewell, a heavy equipment operator for Louisville Water.

Jewell and Plumber Leader’s Assistant Brandon Ward were part of the crew called to repair a small water main break in east Louisville on Saturday. Having worked a few winters, neither seemed troubled by the temperature hovering around 30 degrees.

Ward said, “Put a few extra layers on, that’s pretty much it. I’m warm-natured anyway, so it doesn’t bother me too much.”

Across town in the Crescent Hill neighborhood, Metering Specialist Nate Frederick also took it in stride.

Metering Specialist turns on water service“I have some lined pants that are awesome especially for this time of year. Toboggans, jackets, all our shoes are insulated. We have gloves. These jackets are really warm, they do the job. They’re high-vis(ible) too, so when we’re out at nighttime.”

Frederick is quick to count his blessings.

“It’s great what Louisville Water does for the union (Local 1683), providing us an allotment for us to get our own clothes. That’s the mark of a good company because there’s a lot of companies that don’t do that.”

But he’s just as quick to pass along blessings when he can.

“I keep blankets in my vehicle. If I see homeless (people) out on the street, I’ll provide them a blanket. I gave one out already,” Frederick shared.

Back on Cherian Drive, Jewell and the rest of the crew finished up the main repair, all without ever interrupting water service.

But the nature of the job undoubtedly means getting their hands dirty.

“We keep warm handwashing water, so that we’re not freezing our fingers even more,” Jewell said. “If it gets too cold outside, we all kind of know our limits and we all watch each other to make sure that everybody’s fine.”

It certainly takes a village to keep the Louisville Pure Tap® flowing. Inside the Crescent Hill Water Treatment Plant, Lead Operator Pete Betts keeps his eye on all the pump stations.

Crescent Hill Treatment Plant Operations“Make sure they’re running. You can lose signals or you can lose power. That’s when we send people out to investigate,” Betts said. “If we don’t have power, then we call LG&E or Salt River depending on where it’s at.”

Louisville Water’s service is critical. When weather impacts us, we coordinate with LG&E for priority restoration. Fortunately, there was no need for that over the weekend and no need to call out our salt truck to treat roads at the worksites. Although with a couple chances for snow in the forecast this week, that could soon change.

“We’re just hoping that the city and the state salt the roads good enough so that we can make it from point A to point B,” Jewell said. We’ve got to rely on them to get to our jobs.”

Because we all have one common goal- getting home safely.

Louisville Water dispatchers say they had a stream of “no water” phone calls, but the majority of those were frozen pipes on the customer’s side. With bitter cold weather sticking around for the rest of the week, don’t forget to protect your water pipes!