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City workers battling water lines

A hot, dry summer has caused water lines to burst all across the city of Ironton.

When the ground dries up, it causes the lines to move and the older ones may rupture. City workers have repaired at least six lines since Saturday, said John McCabe, public services coordinator.

Many of the breaks have been in the south end of town where many of the lines have not been replaced since the early 1900s, he said.

"The whole northeast part of the United States has this problem because of infrastructure," McCabe said. "There is an outrageous cost to replace it all."

McCabe said there is not much they can do to prevent these problems. One of the worst areas is on 10th Street where a 16-inch main line has burst several times.

Since January, they have used about 14 clamps at $500 each to repair the line. That doesn’t include man hours, gas and gravel and concrete to repair the road, McCabe said.

They have repaired all the lines without having to shut them off or issue a boil-water advisory.

"We are trying to keep everybody in water," he said.

However, the breaks have caused some people low water pressure and cloudy water. If the water has stained any white clothing, the water department can provide a high-powered detergent to remove the discoloration, he said.

There are no plans to replace any lines at this time and they will

continue to repair them, McCabe said.

City Engineer Joe McCallister said that even if they had the funds, the

city couldn’t replace the lines in-house without more manpower.

"It is a problem," he said. "Our water lines are ancient but it isn’t an uncommon problem with old cities."

The city needed to begin a replacement plan 50 or 60 years ago but it isn’t too late to start one, McCallister said.

Within the next year, the city hopes to replace the current water tank and add two new ones. This is more important than the lines because the entire city depends on the tanks, he said.

According to water distribution employees, another problem is their equipment. They have three vehicles in the shop being worked on, said Steve Collins.

"We only have two vehicles now, one without reverse," he said.

"This is something we need. Good used vehicles would be better that what we’ve got."

This problem isn’t exclusive to Ironton. The village of Coal Grove had to postpone the fire hydrant flushing scheduled for Aug. 6-7 because of broken lines.