Pipe Break Cuts Off Water To West Tulsa Apartment Complexes

Wednesday, February 5th 2014, 7:42 am
By: Emory Bryan

The city of Tulsa chased down water line breaks caused by cold weather on Wednesday. And making the repairs in this weather is a chore.

Even if it was summer, it wouldn't be a pleasant job, but when it's 12 degrees, it's a lot worse.

One water line break near West 23rd Street was reported at 3 a.m. on Wednesday, and the same men worked on it all day. They work 16-hour shifts and regardless of the weather, they get in there and get it done.

Joel Taber with the Tulsa Water Department said, "One way or the other, water is going to spray on them."

Sometimes it's so cold their equipment is covered with icicles and the mud they dig up freezes in place.

This particular break was on a six inch line, right off a 16 inch main, and that's a complicated repair.

After several hours of digging, the crew finally got down to the break, it's called a ring around, a clean break pulled in two and it's definitely related to the cold.

Every element of the repair is affected by the cold.

"Step outside and you got water on your hands, pick up a wrench and the wrench will freeze to your hands; same thing with the pumps, it's warmed, but you shut it off and it freezes, so you have to be on your toes at all times," Taber said.

And there's been a steady stream of breaks. The construction zone is dangerous because it's surrounded by slick streets, and that's one reason workers usually like to be down in the hole in cold weather.

The city said a lot of the breaks are because of the weather. The soil contracts and pulls the pipes apart.

Some of the guys wear hip waders, some just wear boots, but they figure they're going to get wet no matter what.

Crews are expecting another surge in breaks whenever the weather warms up.