Old Man Winter came in this season with both barrels blazing a stream of arctic air!! Temperatures and wind chills throughout the state and nation as a whole have hit record lows. With temperatures well below the freezing mark, and wind chills ranging from single digits to double negative digits, the forecast for an upcoming weekend warm-up in Missouri may bring the results of the hard freeze screaming to the spotlight. Below are some tips and reminders of things you can do to reduce a forecast of headaches for your system!!
Circuit Rider Tip of the Day -
Record daily master meter readings and daily pump run times.
Calculating system usage on a daily basis and knowing how long your pumps are running would be the easiest way to see if something's not "normal" after a thaw. Comparing daily readings might reveal an indication of a meter setter (or several) out in the system that have frozen, burst and thawed, causing low pressure or no pressure.
Before a freeze:
- Insulate your meter box - With continued days of subfreezing temperatures, wind blowing at double negative digits into the pick hole or hinge of a meter box lid will quickly make your aspirin bottle lighter.
- Trickle flush lines - Leaving a stream of water flowing through lines that are typically low use, have no ground cover, or have been newly excavated for repair or replacement will reduce the chance of a freeze up.
- Cover newly excavated trenches - Using straw or sawdust on newly excavated trenches can help insulate the water ditch. Green sawdust generates heat which will also come in hand during a freeze up.
- Daily Checks - Make sure your pump-house/well house, booster stations, and telemetry have heat and a backup heat source in case of power failure. Check these daily.
- (Wastewater) Tarp Cover Clarifiers and Rotors - Use tarps and hay bales for cover anchors over clarifiers and rotors. The heat from the wastewater will aid in keeping things from freezing.
- Thaw tip (PVC) - Use green sawdust to cover frozen line. It generates heat which in turn will thaw the line.
- Keep a Running Record - Public Works should maintain a list of problem areas and re-mediate when warmer weather comes. Keep this list active and it will spark thinking about prevention for the next time.
- Dress for Success - Dress in layers of light weight clothing. Avoid cotton and other materials that absorb moisture. You don't want to be wearing an icicle to stay warm.
- Mittens instead of gloves (if possible) - Your fingers being next to one another will keep each other warm. At wind chills lower than -15 degrees, avoid touching metals. Contact frostbite can occur.
- Knowledge Nugget # 1 - An average meter runs 20 gallons/min. If your master meter shows a spike in usage, an average "thawed" meter could lose 28,800 gallons/day
- Knowledge Nugget # 2 - Check remote or abandoned meters and vacant buildings. If water is spewing and there's no one there to hear it, is it a leak? Your master meter will show you.
After the freeze has come and gone, your system may want to consider an "Extreme Cold Weather" Policy, to encourage customers to leave water running with some kind of compensation or adjustment to their monthly bill.
Here's another quote from Benjamin Franklin,
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Being proactive may reduce the amount of time you have to endure harsh winter temperatures. Stay warm and be safe!!
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