Making Water Outages at Critical Care Facilities a Thing of the Past

In order to repair a broken water main, the location of the break has to be isolated by using pre-installed valves. There are 85,547 water main valves throughout our system. In most cases, this process requires us to turn off water access to nearby customers before working on a pressurized main. An inconvenience for some, but for others like critical care facilities, can be a matter of life or death. That is where a new insertion valve comes in.

The valve can be installed on an existing in-service main and allows us to perform maintenance or repairs without shutting down nearby blocks of the water distribution system.

Staff are currently being trained to install these special valves, and have already installed four in critical areas.

3 men in hard hats are in a hole in the road installing a valve
a group of men wearing hard hats and safety vests standing around a valve in the street
Crew 422 with Crew Chief Travis Cutherbertson and Delmond Cummings installing an insertion valve in Cornelius.

The goal is that at least one crew in every one of our four zones is trained on this specialized valve insertion process so that when a repair is needed near a critical facility, we can install the valve and eliminate the need for a water outage.

Labor Crew Chief and insertion valve project manager Delmond Cummings says, “These valves use fewer fittings, meaning less chance of leaks to the distribution system. The hydraulic integrity of this equipment helps reduce turning off residents or community water for extended periods of time for repair. With this training, employees learn new methods and technologies that upgrade/enhance their knowledge and skill level.

Though we can’t guarantee that a water outage won’t occur during a repair or routine maintenance of our distribution system, we hope that with the addition of these types of valves in our toolkit, we can minimize disruption to our customers.

This is just one of the many ways that our staff are working to improve the resiliency of a system that protects public health and the environment.

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