Frigid cold temperatures arrived in Kentucky well before winter officially started on December 21.
We haven’t felt anything yet, as we brace for the arctic blast blowing into the area overnight Thursday. With single digit temperatures forecasted, the wind chill will reach levels we haven’t seen around here in decades.
Louisville Water will have crews staffed over the holiday weekend. Others are on standby, ready to respond to emergency calls, such as leaks or water main breaks.
Local 1683 President Adam Carter said keeping crews safe and warm is a priority. “They can leave the vehicles running. We get in and out of the vehicles as often as we can when it’s really, really cold.”
Dressing smart is key for Jesse Jewell, a Heavy Equipment Operator, who works second shift. “Make sure I’ve got warm gloves, a toboggan, layers, multiple layers. As long as I’m dry, I’m warm. We definitely keep spare clothes in our locker at the shop.”
Trucks are supplied with a torpedo heater and coolers that store hot water, so crews don’t have to rinse their hands with cold water. Some will keep warm rags on hand as well.
With dangerously cold temperatures, it doesn’t take long for flowing water to freeze on the street. That’s where Louisville Water’s salt truck is extremely helpful.
“We have an employee working around the clock who’s assigned to the salt truck to treat leaks and breaks that are icing the roadways,” said Joe Schmitt, Director of Distribution Operations.
Jewell knows she has an advantage because her excavator is heated. “The best time to be an operator is when it’s cold because you’re going to be inside something.”
As the temperatures fall, the amount of “no water” tickets could rise. That’s when a customer reports they don’t have any water coming out of their faucets. An emergency turner employee will check it out to determine the problem.
“99% of the time, the frozen pipe is in the customer’s private lines, but every now and then it is the meter. If it is the meter, we will dethaw it and get water flowing. If it is the customer’s pipes, there is not much we can do. The customer will have to call a plumber or try and dethaw it themselves,” said Mark Hall, Director of Metering and Billing Services.
Louisville Water offers suggestions to help protect the pipes in your home.