Work must go on – crews brave frigid temps

Feb. 5, 2014 5:30 p.m.

It’s 6 degrees below zero and crews are responding to a report of a water main break.

6:16 p.m.

The temperature has dropped one degree, and first responders have the water shut off, isolating the 8-inch-diameter water main so the repair crew can fix the break.

Feb. 6, 2014 – 3:07 a.m.

With temperatures as low as 13 degrees below zero overnight in Denver, crews complete their work and restored water service in the area.

So, what does a water main break look like in conditions like this? Watch a clip from a live report that aired on CBS4 Denver News last night at 10 p.m. Check out the complete report at CBSDenver.com.

This was the sixth water main break so far this week, with three of the breaks occuring overnight in the extremely tough, frigid conditions. But, it isn’t just our emergency response crews braving the tough winter conditions.

Water freezes around the release valves at Eleven Mile Reservoir.

Water freezes around the release valves at Eleven Mile Reservoir.

In the winter months, Denver Water employees show their true grit when the temperatures take a nose dive.

“It’s cold,” said Todd Pyle, caretaker, referring to a cold snap in December when the thermometer dipped to 27 degrees below zero at Eleven Mile Reservoir. The frigid temperatures made for an impressive sight at the bottom of the dam, where water froze around the release valves.

Pyle said the water also freezes on the valve house deck, making for icy conditions. “We always take precautions and never go alone to adjust the valves,” Pyle said. “It’s windy down there and we try to avoid getting wet. If you do, you can get really cold in a hurry.”

In the metro area, James Lobato, mechanic, and Tony Gutierrez, utility worker, rely on their insulated coveralls to keep warm when the temperatures dip below zero. The two say everything takes longer in the cold, but they know they have a job to do.

“This is the job we signed up for,” said Lobato. “You actually can get hot, so you can’t bundle up too much.”

James Lobato, Denver Water mechanic, and Tony Gutierrez, Denver Water utility worker, brave sub-zero weather to clean out a valve box.

James Lobato, mechanic, and Tony Gutierrez, utility worker, brave sub-zero weather to clean out a valve box.

Lobato and  Gutierrez, the men behind the masks.

Lobato and Gutierrez, the men behind the masks.

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