Bonner utilities workers brave frigid temperatures to fix waterline
Utilities official warns similar line breaks will continue until city can upgrade infrastructure
The Bonner Springs Utility Department braved frigid temperatures last week to address a large water line leak.
The city recognized utilities personnel Mike Samsel and Robert Bryant and their repair crew for responding to the waterline leak at in the early hours of Jan. 5 on Scheidt Lane north of Front Street.
"The temperature on Monday morning was 7 degrees, so needless to say the crew was working in severe weather conditions," Rick Sailler, utilities director, said.
The department first received phone calls at 3 a.m. regarding a large waterline leak. Samsel responded and quickly made a determination that an emergency crew needed to come in on overtime to repair the leak. At 6 a.m., the waterline valves were partially closed, and the waterline was shut down for repair about 8:30 a.m. after additional Utilities Department staff arrived on site with equipment.
The repair crew discovered a large hole in the older cast-iron pipe that apparently had been leaking for a long time, but the water had not surfaced indicating a leak existed. The section of pipe that failed had been repaired before, so the crew removed an 8-foot section and installed new pipe. The crews flushed the waterline as they reopened valves, and pressure was restored by 10:30 a.m.
Street repairs will not be needed because the pipeline was located behind the curb within a gravel area for a nearby business.
Sailler noted that the older waterlines within the city will continue to fail until the entire pipeline is replaced. The Utilities Department has a Capital Improvement Plan in place that will replace a mile of pipe each year at a cost of $500,000 per mile.
"We have approximately 20 to 25 miles of pipe that is 50 years old or older that most susceptible to pipe failures," Sailler said.
He said depending on the rate of failures, the department may need to increase the projects in its plan to replace the older pipelines rather than absorbing the costs of the repairs, which in many cases includes overtime wages for staff or the need to use outside contractors to make the repairs.
The Utilities Department does not maintain maintenance staff on duty on weekends or after 3:30 p.m. during the week.
"Severe water leaks require our dedicated staff to respond to these emergencies when they occur, no matter the time or day or weather conditions," Sailler said.