Hazard officials: Experiencing water problems, conserve water

They say they are still experiencing problems with the amount water in the system.

Duane Moser, an assistant research professor with Desert Research Institute, collects water samples from the Las Vegas Wash in Henderson, Nev., Thursday, Oct. 18, 2007. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Hazard, Kentucky - Hazard City Officials have released a statement about the water situation.

They say they are still experiencing problems with the amount water in the system.

They ask you conserve water when you are not home.

"The City of Hazard, Kentucky is continuing to experience difficulties with supplying all of its utility customers with water due to the extraordinary cold weather conditions which have prevailed over the past three weeks. The City Manager, Carlos Combs, has reported that water system personnel for the City have located and repaired more than 12 major waterline breaks during the period from January 4-8, 2014, and incurred more than 900 total overtime hours during that same period to keep the system operational. The City wants to reassure its customers that all steps are being taken to prevent disruption of service and to restore service to all customers in the City and in Perry County who have been inconvenienced at any time during this period. The City also needs its customers to assist in preventing future disruptions of service by understanding the nature of the problem and using common sense to protect yourself and your neighbors:

• Call the City Maintenance Department by calling (606) 436-1863 during business hours or the Hazard Water Plant at 436-2033 at other times to report any possible waterline breaks in streets, public rights of way, or any other area.
• If you are the owner of a vacant property, please disconnect the water supply to avoid unnecessary charges or check on the property daily during cold weather to make certain that no leaks are ongoing. During this last cold snap, one abandoned mobile home accounted for a leak of 200,000 gallons of water before the leak was detected and stopped. Another vacant apartment building lost more than 500,000 gallons of water before the leak was detected and the water was disconnected.
• If you live in the neighborhood of a vacant or abandoned building and you see or hear running water or otherwise suspect that a leak may exist, please notify the City immediately at the phone numbers above.
• Conserve water during very cold weather, and do not permit faucets to flow continuously even if only a trickle. If absolutely necessary, reduce the flow from a single faucet to a slow continuous drip only during periods when water is not otherwise being used in the household. A continuous flow of water or even a trickle of water is unnecessary to protect water pipes from freezing.

The single most important factor causing the recent water outages for customers is the problem of unnecessary use of water during periods of cold weather. Homeowners should not run faucets continuously during periods of cold weather. If you have had freeze-ups before, and if you feel it is absolutely necessary to prevent freezing of pipes, you should reduce the flow from a single faucet to a slow continuous drip, but only during periods when water is not otherwise being used in the household. According to Hank Spaulding, the City Engineer, the City’s water system has the design capacity to produce 200,000 gallons of water per hour which meets the normal water demands of all 9,000 individual customers in Perry County plus allows 33% excess capacity at any given time. When a significant number of the 9,000 customers run faucets continuously, even at low flow levels, the resulting extra demand quickly exceeds the water plant’s excess capacity and rapidly depletes the system’s storage capacity causing outages. A standard ¾ inch waterline (which 99% of homeowners have as a service feed from their meter) 100 feet in length holds only 2.3 gallons of water, and few homeowners have more than 10 feet of exposed water line in crawl spaces beneath the insulated part of their homes. A slow, steady continuous drip from a faucet will drain approximately 3 gallons of water per hour and will clear a 10 foot long piece of ¾ inch pipe every five minutes. In contrast, a trickle of water the size of a pencil will drain approximately 30 gallons of water per hour and will clear a 10 foot long piece of ¾ inch pipe every 30 seconds. If every customer uses a pencil size trickle all day long, it results in an additional use of about 6,500,000 gallons of water every day, which far exceeds the water systems capacity (about 4,900,000 gallons a day), and certainly removes any chance of restoring service to any area, which may have lost water service because of this un-necessary use. Please conserve water during cold weather and do not allow more than a slow continuous drip of water from a single faucet as a precaution against freezing of pipes.

When water reserves are depleted, outages will follow. In times of water emergency, the City makes every effort to give priority in maintaining water service to the ARH Medical Center and to the VA Nursing Home and Hazard Nursing Home. Other areas may experience outages based on demand considerations and special obstacles which must be overcome to maintain service. The City does not prioritize water service to customers inside the city limits during an emergency, but the restoration of water service must begin first at the water plant and progress outward from the core service area to outlying areas. Each area of the County must be systematically restored in small pipeline segments by repair of leaks, purging waterlines of air, recalibration of valves and pumping stations and sampling of water to determine if it is safe to drink.

The City also wants its customers to know that it is constantly planning improvements to the system in an effort to enhance its ability to respond in times of crisis. While the City and the County are continuously cooperating in an effort to expand new water service into unserved portions of the County, the City is simultaneously undertaking a project to spend almost $4.5 Million Dollars during the upcoming year to upgrade and improve aspects of the current water system. These changes will include up to five new or replacement booster stations with variable electronic controls which can better regulate water flows into areas prone to water losses, up to 42 new master water meters (not customer meters) to enable the City to more quickly identify where excessive water losses are occurring, and new telemetry to enable the City to better monitor and remotely control system operations. These improvements would be helpful today in confronting the current crisis, but they should be available to help avoid repetition of the problems in future years."

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